Mike Flynnon Unstoppable with Kara GoldinMy guest today, Mike Flynn, is a speaker, author, founder, and host of “The Impact Entrepreneur Show“.

Mike recently came out with a new book called Master the Key: A Story to Free Your Potential, Find Meaning and Live Life on Purpose.

His work has also been featured in Huffington Post and Thrive Global.

On today’s show, Mike talks about his career journey, the questions you should be asking yourself when you’re trying to find your purpose, why being normal is actually great, and much more.

I hope you enjoy the show!

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

Unstoppable with Kara Goldin on Apple Podcasts

“Be ok with being normal. Your story matters. You can facilitate something great right where you’re at.” – Mike Flynn

Show Notes:

  • What is The Impact Entrepreneur
  • What “passion” means
  • How to find your purpose
  • Why people leave jobs
  • How to podcast
  • Why normal is great

“A gift doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to some sort of achievement or status.” – Mike Flynn

Links Mentioned:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | The Impact Entrepreneur Show

“We need to find our why (it is important), but what you need to do before that is believe that you’re worthy of one.” – Mike Flynn


Kara Goldin: Hi everybody. It’s Kara with Unstoppable. Super, super excited to have Mike Flynn here with me today in the Hint offices. So, Mike’s a speaker author, founder, and host of another great program called The Impact Entrepreneur Show, which I’ve been a part of.

Mike Flynn: Yes.

Kara Goldin: Anyway, so welcome. Super excited to have you here.

Mike Flynn: Yes, I’m super honored and pumped to be here, and impact your audience today, and help them, remind them of the truth that already dwells within them.

Kara Goldin: I love it. So, Mike and I met probably almost a couple of years ago now, which is really pretty crazy, but I’d love for you to tell our audience what inspired you to head down the path of personal growth and what was it that… I mean, you’ve done other things, and what made you think about this?

Mike Flynn: I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years. Actually, I’ve probably been an entrepreneur since the day I was born because I’m one of six kids, so I’ve always had to fight for my food, so it was-

Kara Goldin: Where’d you grew up?

Mike Flynn: Santa Cruz, California.

Kara Goldin: Okay, okay.

MIke Flynn: I’m number two, but we have a great families. But really, I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years and in the financial services space. I swore I’d never do that. I swore it because it’s part of the family business. My dad started our firm, and we’re not here to talk about wealth management and all that stuff. But my dad started our firm 31 years ago, and I swore I’d never join the family business. My actual original pursuit was to be an actor, and I had done-

Kara Goldin: I could see that. There’s still time, Mike.

Mike Flynn: There is. I had done some professional theater, some musical theater, and all of that stuff, and I was getting advice from some experts in that area to pursue that, to go get an agent, and to pursue that that I had a chance. Then my father who I love and who has my best interest in mind approached me one day and said, “You probably shouldn’t do that because if you pursue that career, you’re going to struggle. It’s going to be hard, and you’re probably going to suffer.”

Mike Flynn: I was more interested in his love and affection, which I did not have much of growing up because he was a military officer; he was gone a lot. So now, all of a sudden, I’m in college, and the light that is my dad is shining on me, and I said, “Okay, well, I’m not going to pursue that anymore. I’m going to switch. I’m going to go get a degree in business,” and fast-forward, I ultimately joined ranks with him, if you will, 15 years ago, and I was really successful right off the bat. It was 2005, so pre-financial crisis.

Mike Flynn: I was married to my childhood sweetheart. By 2007, we had purchased our first home. I had money in the bank. We had two kids. In November of that year, November 2007, I made $200 that month in new business revenue. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew something was changing, and the tides were going out.

Mike Flynn: So, fast-forward, by October of 2010, we had short-sold our first home. I had burned through all of the money that I had in the bank to help pay overhead for the business, to keep our expenses afloat. I went from having two kids to four kids. Then in January of 2011, this is really embarrassing, but there are other people that have this story, and they’re ashamed of it, so men in particular.

Mike Flynn: In January of 2011, I was diagnosed with male postpartum depression. I didn’t even meet my son. My youngest son is now eight years old. He was in December of 2010. I didn’t carry the child. I didn’t birth the child.

Kara Goldin: No, I think a lot of people… Yeah.

Mike Flynn: So that moment there was rock bottom for me. Then I had a mental breakdown as a result of all of those things culminating, and my wife approached me one day, and she said, “Mike, you are not the man that I know you to be. Can you go talk to someone please?” So I did. I’ve been talking to that same person for the last seven years every quarter.

Kara Goldin: That’s awesome.

Mike Flynn: That was the beginning of my own real personal growth and development and beginning to own who I am and all of the stories that I’ve told myself for my whole life.

Kara Goldin: That’s amazing. So, you just wrote this book.

Mike Flynn: Yes, Master the Key. Yeah, yeah.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, so tell us a little bit about it and why you did it.

Mike Flynn: Yeah, so, Master the Key: A Story to Free Your Potential, Find Meaning and Live Life on Purpose is an incredibly important work for myself but also for the world. I think that one of the greatest questions that we ask ourselves as human beings is, “Why am I here?” We’ve asked this question. It’s not a new one. It’s been asked for thousands of years. “Who am I? Why am I here? What am I doing? What’s my purpose?”

Mike Flynn: I think that what’s my purpose is actually not a super helpful question. I think a better question, which is along the same lines is, “What am I here to facilitate?” So, if you’re going to answer that question, you have to do it in… You have to break it down into four different parts, which end up being the four pieces of the key, your story, which is your narrative that you tell yourself, which gives you the ability to look at your gifts, your giftedness because we all have gifts in a new way, which then influences how you’re going to act, which then influences in turn what kind of communities you’re going to be a part of.

Mike Flynn: In each one of those scenarios, your role changes. It’s fluid. So, your purpose, even though you might have a core purpose, but what you’re here to facilitate changes given the circumstances. So, right now, we’re facilitating something, right? We’re all in on that. I saw you when I walked into your office, and you were all in on whatever conference call you were… You were making stuff happen to have the game-changing impact in the lives of others that you are on a mission to have through Hint.

Mike Flynn: When you’re at home, your purpose is to facilitate a deep and meaningful relationship with your husband and then your children. So, I think that we get caught up on this idea of purpose because we all want to perform at a peak level in life, right?

Kara Goldin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Flynn: Especially in this world where we are inundated with people’s highlight reels and achievements, so we think that in order to have a meaningful, purpose-driven, purpose-filled life, we need to be a multimillionaire. We need to have a eight-figure business. We need to do X, Y, or Z, right?

Kara Goldin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Flynn: But that’s actually a fallacy because we know that those types of outcomes don’t guarantee success. They don’t guarantee fulfillment. They don’t guarantee happiness. In fact, I think it was IBM that did a study many years ago that basically said that beyond $78,000 a year in income, in order to meet Maslow’s basic fundamental-

Kara Goldin: Hierarchy, yeah.

Mike Flynn: … needs, hierarchy of needs, you don’t need much more than that. So let’s adjust it for inflation. Let’s say it’s $150,000, right? Then you can begin to maneuver in your life and begin to explore some of these more deep meaningful questions about what am I here to facilitate wherever you are whether it’s growing a business, helping tackle big problems in the environment, like we were just talking about off-mic. Writing a book, relating with your children, your employees, whatever it might be.

Mike Flynn: So this book is designed to remind people of the truth that dwells within them, which is the reality that we already possess everything that we need to have a life where our potential is fully at work, have a life where we have a full sense of meaning and purpose.

Kara Goldin: So a gift, like what’s one of your gifts?

Mike Flynn: One of my gifts I think is communication. I’m also a musician. I believe that one of my gifts is the gift of insight, and what I mean by that is that in talking with people, I have the ability to hear them in a way where I’m able to maybe draw out one of their own gifts and bring it up and elevate that. I think that’s a gift. It’s not something I can necessarily hold, but I can sense it. People have affirmed, “Wow, you’re really good at that. That was very insightful,” or, “You can sing really well. You can play the guitar really well.” Those are all gifts, or, “You’re a great leader.”

Mike Flynn: There’s a whole range of gifts. I believe that we all have gifts. A gift doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to some sort of achievement or status, and that actually is one of the core tenets of the book. One of the main characters. So, the book is a fictional story that will lead readers to the truth, and one of the main characters is a woman named Chas, and she is a performance violinist. She’s actually based on a real person, a mashup of two real people.

Mike Flynn: One is a Holocaust survivor, and one is a friend I grew up with in high school named Rebecca Jackson who is… Actually, she plays violin for the San Francisco Ballet, and one of her mentors is a guy named David Arben who was a Holocaust survivor, and he was the conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Anyway, at one point in this story, Chas, the character loses the ability to play the violin, which was her whole life-long pursuit, her whole understanding of her value to the world.

Mike Flynn: She loses not only her ability to play the violin, but she actually loses the physical violence. So, suddenly, she’s confronted with this reality that she doesn’t have any gifts anymore. But what she comes to learn and then teaches to the main character Steve is that just because she lost the ability to play the violin doesn’t mean she actually lost her gift. She lost one way to express her gift, but through time, through exploration, through healing, she was able to re-identify what her actual gift was.

Kara Goldin: Come up with a different… Yeah.

Mike Flynn: It was to unify people, to heal people through music. So just because you might lose your ability to express your gift in one way doesn’t necessarily mean you lose your gift entirely. Does that make sense?

Kara Goldin: Yeah, interesting. So, how do you think that relates to in the age of entrepreneurship? I mean, how do you think that that relates?

Mike Flynn: Oh, yeah, I mean, just look at entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship today is all about hustle. It’s all about outcomes. It’s all about status. It’s all about achievement. Everybody is a public figure. Everybody is trying to get that special 10,000-follower mark on Instagram so they can get the swipe-up feature. I mean, it’s silly. There’s a there’s a certain sense of silliness that’s happening in entrepreneurship. What happens is it’s actually causing a little bit of an identity crisis because you and I both know that most businesses fail within the first five years.

Mike Flynn: So, the reason why we have this… We have weird thing happening actually in entrepreneurship. In America is actually shrinking, but the freelance economy is expanding. The side hustle, side gig world is expanding at the same time.

Kara Goldin: I agree.

Mike Flynn: A lot of it is because you have people that are completely disengaged at work, okay? In fact, Gallup just did a study recently that revealed that 85% of employees globally are actively disengaged at work, and it’s costing businesses $7 trillion a year.

Kara Goldin: Crazy.

Mike Flynn: It’s nuts, right? Then CNN… I think it was CNN or MSNBC did a report on side hustles. 37% of working Americans have a side hustle of some kind. So what’s happening, the kind of nexus between those two is passion, right? Follow your passion, and the money will follow is the typical advice, right? But people don’t really know what they’re passionate about because people don’t understand what the word passion actually means.

Mike Flynn: The etymological origin of the word passion is the willingness to suffer for something. So when you put that in that lens, it changes things. When you identify what you’re willing to suffer for, it’s going to change your decision-making. But in order to answer, “Mike, what are you willing to suffer for?” You have to have a pretty good grasp on who you are.

Kara Goldin: Which a lot of people don’t.

Mike Flynn: And your story, like I was thinking on the way up here. I drove up in Santa Cruz today. Obviously, they like your story, right? You have this really… You are proof of this book, right? Of mastering your identity, the idea that we need to find our why is important. But what you need to do before that is believe that you’re worthy of one. When you went through your whole health journey, the beginning of that was you reminding yourself that you’re worthy of being healthy.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, totally. No, I think it’s I think it’s a huge challenge for people, and also it’s just easier for you just to keep going on the path that you’re going and go into a job that you’re not really psyched about every day or whatever it is.

Mike Flynn: Collect your paycheck, right?

Kara Goldin: Yep.

Mike Flynn: But this company that you are creating and building and is so mission-oriented, and it’s no wonder you’re getting the type of talent here that you have because you have it. So, the idea behind this book, it applies both at the personal level and at the corporate level, because if you want your people to be engaged in your vision, you have to make sure that they have the ability to cast a vision for themselves because their ability to cast a vision for themself impacts their ability to interpret the vision that you’ve cast for the company, because guess what? This company and every other company in San Francisco and in the world is comprised of a bunch of individuals, right?

Kara Goldin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Flynn: So we want to see engagement increase, if we want to see people living lives of purpose, then companies need to invest in their people identifying what their stories are, their vision for their future, remind them that they can do hard things, and that they’re worthy of doing hard things, and that they can do things with the hard things that they’ve experienced. That’s the thing that I-

Kara Goldin: That’s true.

Mike Flynn: I think that that’s one of the biggest hang-ups that we have as a society. In fact, it’s rooted in psychology. Have you ever heard of a guy named Dr. Albert Bandura?

Kara Goldin: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I have.

Mike Flynn: Okay, so self-efficacy theory, right?

Kara Goldin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Flynn: It’s all about building confidence at the end of the day that you are effective. Most people have been stripped of their sense of effectiveness.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, or told to stay in the lane or-

Mike Flynn: Totally.

Kara Goldin: … drive between the lines. No, it’s totally true.

Mike Flynn: Yeah, I mean, your story and Hint’s story is a perfect example of self-efficacy theory at work.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, it’s so true. So, the podcast. I want to back up a little bit. So, your podcast. I was reading an article the other day and hearing about it on Twitter that Mark Zuckerberg just started his own podcast.

Mike Flynn: Did he really?

Kara Goldin: Did you know that? Yeah.

Mike Flynn: No.

Kara Goldin: There was a bunch of snarky people on Twitter saying like, “It’s the end of podcasting.”

Mike Flynn: I sent him an invite, but he hasn’t come on.

Kara Goldin: It’s like now the joke of when your mom’s on Facebook, then you’re gone, and people said-

Mike Flynn: Yeah, totally. Yeah, yeah.

Kara Goldin: So, people said, “Now, podcasting is no longer cool anymore, and Zuck killed podcasting.”

Mike Flynn: Zuck killed podcasting.

Kara Goldin: What advice would you give Mark on actually getting his podcast out there? What are the key things?

Mike Flynn: People don’t need any noise in their lives. So, I don’t have any sponsors on my show. I take that back. I have one sponsor Lawton Marketing Group. They’re a company out of Oklahoma, great team of people that host my website and do all that stuff in exchange for that spot. But I’m not trying to make money on this podcast. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t need money, obviously, right? So, what he should do with his podcast is make it so deep and meaningful.

Mike Flynn: His whole mission initially was to meet chicks at Harvard, and then it became about social connection. Now, social connection has been social distortion. So, use podcasting to get back to social connection, and make sure nobody else is listening in while you’re… this is the one opportunity where… Actually, I take that back, where he wants other people in listen in and do so freely without necessarily having their devices being listened to by Facebook.

Mike Flynn: But he has an opportunity to… He has access that nobody else does, right? Not only that, but they have on the backend a tremendous amount of data, obviously, that-

Kara Goldin: They don’t have any data.

Mike Flynn: You’re right. Exactly. They don’t have any data. That’s true. Yeah, but they have great resources to really help people make sense of what’s going on in the world and trends. So, they can really do some really interesting things. One of the things that I would encourage Zuck to do is to invite normal people onto his show. We don’t need any more celebrity podcast, right?

Kara Goldin: Yeah.

Mike Flynn: There are normal people doing redonkulous things in the world, and we need to celebrate that more, right?

Kara Goldin: Yeah, I think that’s right. Yeah, I’m going to try and be that normal person and get on his podcast.

Mike Flynn: Do it.

Kara Goldin: So, I was thinking about ways that I could do it last night. I hear he drinks Hints, so maybe that’ll be-

Mike Flynn: Does he? Oh, wow. There you go.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, I’ll send him a case and then say, “By the way, I want to be on this podcast.”

Mike Flynn: Oh, man. Totally. Oh, you know what? You should send this to his… He’s got one or two kids, right?

Kara Goldin: Yeah.

Mike Flynn: Send a whole case of these to his family. But just one more thing about the normal thing. I was thinking about this. I was almost thinking about changing my Instagram bio or whatever just to unabashedly normal. People think that they don’t have value unless they’ve had experienced some crazy tragedy and overcome it or hit celebrity status in acting or money or whatever, right?

Kara Goldin: Yep.

Mike Flynn: But be okay. It’s be okay with being normal. Your story matters. You can facilitate something great right where you’re at.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no. It’s so true, and I think that there’s a need for people to hear those stories as well. I mean, I try and do that as much as I can on Unstoppable too-

Mike Flynn: Yeah, totally.

Kara Goldin: … and just talk to people about… I had founders on here who have been fired from their company that they started and many others, but it’s interesting. I had a situation last week where I shared it with this women’s group that I’m a part of. It was a very personal situation, and a couple of these women wrote back to me and said like, “The fact that you’re just even sharing this with people that you don’t necessarily even know, like you just helped us to actually want to share more.”

Kara Goldin: I think that is… There’s a huge need. The saying of like, “It’s lonely at the top,” or whatever. I think that there’s whether you’re an entrepreneur or you’re a parent or whatever. You don’t have it all figured out. If you did, then you probably wouldn’t be an entrepreneur or a parent or whatever, right? I’m always the first person to say that life has never been a straight line for me, and it’s very zigzaggy.

Kara Goldin: So, again, I think that the more you can host people like that who shared the same… We were talking about the book, and do you go with a traditional publisher? Or do you self-publish? Everybody’s got their opinions on it, and I think it’s like… None of them are probably wrong, right?

Mike Flynn: Sure. Yeah, yes.

Kara Goldin: But it’s having that discussion and conversation I think is so critical.

Mike Flynn: We live too much in the either-or world-

Kara Goldin: Yeah, totally.

Mike Flynn: … where it can be a both-and instead, which is better, right? Do you remember when you were growing up and you were in elementary school, and you had a teacher probably that said something to the effect of, “Don’t be afraid to ask a question because if you have the question, somebody else probably has the point too”?

Kara Goldin: Yeah, totally.

Mike Flynn: I remember being super timid to still ask that question even though that teacher gave us the permission to do that. Well, that’s actually leadership. So what you do with your women’s group is you are feeling whatever it was you were feeling or had this situation that you were feeling, and because whether you were aware of it or not, you raised your hand and shared that, and you gave other people the freedom to do the same because we are actually created to give in that way, right?

Kara Goldin: Yeah.

Mike Flynn: If we need-

Kara Goldin: It’s the gift.

Mike Flynn: It’s the gift, right?

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no. Totally.

Mike Flynn: Totally. Totally.

Kara Goldin: It’s like it’s such an important aspect of it.

Mike Flynn: If you want mercy, give mercy, right?

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, it’s so true. I think that more and more, but I think so much of the time people think that you’re untouchable, and that you’re not a real person or… I mean, I’ve heard so many stories about people who no longer are on Twitter anymore because they were harassed. I always wonder if, like I think there’s a percentage of those people that were harassed, but I think also that it’s like they weren’t authentic enough to actually say who they really are a lot of times.

Kara Goldin: I mean, I’ve told people like, “You know what? Don’t say that kind of stuff to me. If you say it again, then I block you.”

Mike Flynn: Totally, yeah.

Kara Goldin: Like, “Because you can’t come into my party anymore. Sorry.”

Mike Flynn: Well, I want to actually say something about you, to your own audience, and that is that you walk the talk.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, thank you.

Mike Flynn: You are truly-

Kara Goldin: I’m normal.

Mike Flynn: You’re normal.

Kara Goldin: So, I’m adding it to my bio. She’s bio.

Mike Flynn: You are totally a giver. I have found over the last… What year is it? It’s 2019. So over the last four years since I started launching The Impact Entrepreneurship Show and doing all this personal development platform type building in addition to my other business and all that stuff, is that most people are still fake, right?

Kara Goldin: Yeah.

Mike Flynn: They have a facade that they use in the public as being this really giver type personality, and then on the back end, they’re not.

Kara Goldin: They’re not, yeah. I can’t be around those people for very long.

Mike Flynn: I know. It’s painful for me. It’s like it’s disappointing, right?

Mike Flynn: But you are the real deal. You are the real deal.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, so it’s probably because I have four kids like you too.

Mike Flynn: Yeah, yeah. Don’t have time to be [inaudible 00:27:20].

Kara Goldin: Exactly. So what makes you unstoppable? I mean, you’ve mentioned a few things, but-

Mike Flynn: Yes, yeah. What makes me… My mom calls me Mikey Bulldog because I don’t know if… Bulldogs are relentless, right?

Kara Goldin: Yeah.

Mike Flynn: I don’t give up. I don’t give up. I don’t tap out. I’m wildly curious.

Kara Goldin: My first boss used to call me that. That brings back memories.

Mike Flynn: Oh, really?

Kara Goldin: That’s so funny.

Mike Flynn: Oh, that’s kind of-

Kara Goldin: Not Mikey, but she used to call me a bulldog, so-

Mike Flynn: My mom calls me Mikey Bulldog. In fact-

Kara Goldin: That’s hilarious.

Mike Flynn: … I’ve got Bulldog socks on today.

Kara Goldin: Wow, I love it.

Mike Flynn: But I’m a bulldog, which means I’m not always like the cleanest about how I go about doing things. I’m lovable, I’m loyal, I’m wildly curious, and I’m eager to collaborate with people who are also wildly curious about me. That’s really the three elements that make up a phenomenal community, which you’ll learn in the book are that they are wildly curious about your success as much as if not more than your own that they desire to collaborate with you, and because they have spent time doing those first two things, they also have earned the ability to correct you when they see you veering off course.

Kara Goldin: That’s awesome.

Mike Flynn: When they see you not being the Kara that we all know you to be, right?

Kara Goldin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Flynn: Then somebody can say, “You know what? That’s not like you. You’re better than that.” You know?

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no. It’s so true. So, if you guys have not listened to The Impact Entrepreneur Show, definitely go on and on to iTunes and download it for sure, and-

Mike Flynn: It’s on Spotify.

Kara Goldin: On Spotify.

Mike Flynn: Google Play. All of the channels, you can listen to The Impact Entrepreneur Show.

Kara Goldin: That’s awesome. What’s the biggest one that people go to?

Mike Flynn: Apple. It’s probably Apple and Spotify or the two. Then I just got an email today that Pandora is starting to roll them out now too.

Kara Goldin: That’s awesome.

Mike Flynn: So, who knows? I mean, they’re everywhere. Podcast is still really early. There’s 450… Excuse me. There’s 450,000 podcasts in the world, the last I counted. One, two, three… No, I’m just kidding. I didn’t count manually, but that’s the census, but it’s still early. They’re just conversations.

Mike Flynn: All you need is a microphone and a computer and curiosity, you know?

Kara Goldin: Yeah.

Mike Flynn: So everybody should celebrate curiosity.

Kara Goldin: I totally agree. And the book, so Master the Key.

Mike Flynn: Master the Key.

Kara Goldin: And-

Mike Flynn: I think this will air after it’s launched. So, it’s on Amazon.

Kara Goldin: Awesome.

Mike Flynn: You type in “Master the Key Mike Flynn,” and it’ll come in there, or you can go to theimpactentrepreneur.net/book, and it will redirect you to be Amazon. 95% of book sales take place on Amazon, and it’ll also be available on Barnes & Noble and stuff like that, but-

Kara Goldin: That’s awesome.

Mike Flynn: … most of it’s going to be Amazon. Amazon’s taking over the world.

Kara Goldin: That’s super great. So, go buy it on Amazon or any other place, but quick and easy on Amazon, and-

Mike Flynn: Like Kara, I’m super active on social. So, hit me up, @theimpactmike. I want to hear your story. If you have a compelling story, if you have a story that that has revealed something to you that that you want to have a game-changing impact in the lives of others, or you’re taking an impact moment in your life such as Kara’s, and you are using that to have a game-changing impact in the lives of others, then hit me up and tell me.

Kara Goldin: I love it.

Mike Flynn: Maybe we can host you on the show.

Kara Goldin: I love it. Well, thanks so much, Mike. This is awesome.

Mike Flynn: Yes, thank you.