Paul Epstein: Author of Better Decisions Faster

Episode 464

Paul Epstein, Best-Selling Author of Better Decisions Faster, shares all about his latest book and why making quick, considered, decisions that reflect one's values and priorities is key. We discuss why it is so critical to have making better decisions faster a key priority and how doing so can lead to happiness and results. Plus, Paul shares many of his own stories that led to him making monumental changes in his life. The lessons are there! So inspiring and motivating. Make the decision to listen now on this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, its Kara from the Kara Goldin show. I’m so excited to have my next guest. Here we have my friend and incredible, incredible, wise wise leader that is out there that I just absolutely not only love what he talks about, but also his incredible book that he just wrote called better decisions faster. Really, really amazing. Paul Epstein, he is a serial best selling author. This is his third book. Is that right? The

Paul Epstein 1:18
second, but I’m already thinking about my third. I

Kara Goldin 1:21
thought there was another I thought there was another one I got ahead of myself right now. So I had I had this manifestation of calling. It’s another one coming on on the horizon. So he’s a serial best selling author, podcast host of the wind Monday podcast, and the founder of the wind Monday community. And he’s also an elite personal and professional development network leader. And in 15 years as a leader in the world of pro sports, Paul helped take NBA teams from the bottom of the league and revenue to the top two broke every premium sales revenue metric in Super Bowl history as well. And also founded the San Francisco 40, Niners talent Academy. So he is just an incredible, incredible, incredible force. And I’m really excited to have you here with us today, Paul.

Paul Epstein 2:22
Thanks so much. Carol fired up to be here. Super

Kara Goldin 2:25
excited to be here. So better decisions faster. So how did you decide that? A, now was the time to do this? But also give us a brief overview of the book?

Paul Epstein 2:40
Absolutely. Well, you know how it is and whether it’s writing undaunted in your shoes, or in my case, first book, The Power of playing offense, which was the leadership playbook I never had, I think you and I are on a very similar mission, which is when we see a problem in the world, and we see a gap, we just if it’s the right problem, and we feel like we are credible enough to solve it, then we just attack it. It is that undaunted mindset. So here’s what happened is, you go all around the globe, and you talk about this message and mission of playing offense. And I always talk about playing offense in a defensive environment. So defense are the hurdles and the obstacles and the setbacks and the challenges in the adversity. So all the problems, it could be bad economy, it could be a pandemic, it could be a crappy boss, it could be whatever the problems that we’re facing is, and I say, Okay, those are external. Those are market conditions. They’re typically out of your control. So how do you play offense in those defensive environments? And that was this message that was just creating massive waves in the keynote community and beyond? And then the natural question carrot became, what do people that play offense do differently than people that play defense? Like, what is that silver bullet separator? And I went back to the lab, I didn’t just blurt out an answer. It was like, Okay, let me go back with my team. Let me hop in the pod. Let me learn from the pod. Let me do my coaching and consulting practice. Let me go speak and really understand in the trenches of the world and my clients, like what do people teams and organizations do differently when they play offense versus defense? And here’s what we found after years of being back in the lab. Highly, highly decisive. When you’re on offense, you make decisions. Also, because of that, you embrace imperfect action. So people who have played offense are action over outcome driven. And because of those mentalities of being decisive and embracing imperfect action, they don’t fall prisoner to the worst decision of them all. indecision. They don’t suffer from paralysis like most of the world does. They don’t sit on the sidelines, and even in a leadership perspective, they don’t get crippled by decision fatigue and decision overwhelm. But I found that there are so few people and Karen, maybe this will resonate with not only you, but your entire audience here. I found that there’s so few people that had to go to process to make their decisions. So if I just shout from the mountaintops, Hey, folks go make better decisions faster. It’s cool. It’s inspiring. But how do I do it? Give me the application. And that’s the guts. And that’s the inside of the book was what I call the head, heart hands equation, we’ll quickly unpack that, and then I’ll kick it back to you. But if you’re listening in, think of your head, as your mindset. Think of your heart as your authenticity. And think of hands as action. The equation is head plus heart equals hands. In other words, when deciding whether to use your hands whether to take action, there’s two checkpoints, head and heart, head, do I think it’s a good idea heart do I feel it’s a good idea. And just like a traffic signal, when you pull up, you know what to do green is Go Red is stop yellow is assess. That’s how the equation works. When you’re having your partner on board, green freakin light 10 out of 10 times, go go go take action, when there’s no head, no heart, that’s a red light. So don’t do it, or stop doing it. And then the yellow light is when only the head or the heart is on board. And we solve for the gap. So in summary, I wrote the book care to inspire an abundance of green lights in all of our life, I wrote the book to create an awareness of red lights. So we stopped running them. And I wrote the book, because the messy middle of yellow is so hard. And I wanted to be a part of the solution that this is the playbook for how you navigate and conquer the messy middle of yellow.

Kara Goldin 6:55
So everyone has been there, right? And we get in this yellow zone every now and and I I know a little bit about your personal story. But can you share sort of where you found yourself in this space? And how, you know, I really think that that was also so key you as I was reading through better decisions faster, I felt like it’s very relatable, right? You have been through this, you’re you’re not just coaching other people who have been through it. It’s you’re a real victim of this, and how did you get through it? And how did you decide to make those decisions?

Paul Epstein 7:37
Absolutely. And I’ll take us back to yesterday, yesterday here, and then I’ll double click on it, I opened up better decisions faster with the biggest yellow light of my life. And so that’s where we’ll kind of close this out. But really, I think you know, this Kara, whether it’s running hint, or whether it’s any other venture that you’ve ever been in, like we live in this hyper competitive, super fast, super complex world, where in the head, heart hands realm, I think there’s a whole lot of head and a whole lot of hands. It’s like a Go Go Go doo doo doo world. But what I think we often bypass is the heart. And the heart is our authenticity. And where I found myself, frankly, I’m still I’m here on your podcast still as a sports executive. If I would have never found myself, I ended up taking a Jerry Maguire leap at the end of 2017. When I was crushing it by all external metrics, I’m the head of sales for the San Francisco 40, Niners what could be better kid in a candy store total dream come true. And it was about a year before that Lee, that I went to an off site retreat. It was a team president of the Niners all his reports, and I was one of them. And we go off site and we find our why we find our values. And it was the first time care that I ever felt like I call the timeout. I took a pause from winning from succeeding from growing from crashing goals from hitting revenue, metrics, KPIs, all these things that we measure. Well, who’s measuring the inner scoreboard? Who’s measuring their happiness? Who’s measuring their fulfillment? Who’s measuring the purpose that they feel not just like a Northstar? But in every single day alive, like it can purpose be a 365 operating system. And I never paused to ask myself those things. But this retreat, forced it on me. But I was ready to hear it. I was ready to make decisions because of it. I was ready to act on it. So walking away with my core values and starting to connect those to how I showed up via my decisions and actions. So there’s this consistent theme of decision making, but it’s often deciding how you show up who you are, what you stand for, and who you want to become, and the reasons for the fight that you’re willing to put in to get there to become from your current state to your future state. So that’s my background. So I knew all about this decisions. And again, you get on this treadmill of success and winning and Everyone applauded to you and you think you’re killing it. And, you know, better decisions faster becomes an idea of a book, and eventually a message and a mission. But I’m human, just like everybody listening to this. And I suffer from as many yellow lights is everybody else. And so I think greens and reds are about awareness. Show me a green. I’m like God, Paul. Oh, cool. I don’t need to read the book for greens and reds, you made me aware, I understand that. I think the biggest payoff here the biggest transformation, and the biggest potential opportunity is how do we navigate and conquer the messy middle of and for me, the yellow came from, you know, I lost my dad at 19. And he’s my hero. And so every day, my measurement of success is, am I making my dad proud. And so me a couple years back, now becoming a dad for the first time, I thought, oh, my gosh, what an amazing opportunity, I get to be a hero, I get to be a hero for my little guy, this is awesome. And six months into it, I felt like the exact opposite of a hero. You know, like I missed my old life. I missed my best friend, I was having trouble emotionally connecting in this new chapter of life. And I wasn’t ready, I you know, is negatively impacting my work. And it was bigger than the emotional or physical fatigue. It was like emotional fatigue. And you you know, when you’re in a storm, Karen, you’ve been through many as we all have, you don’t have the proper context all the time, like you don’t have the perspective of like, how long is this storm gonna last. And in the worst of storms, if they feel permanent, it feels like you’re never going to get out of it. And that messes with you. So I was in a yellow light where my heart was in. I love my little guy. I want to, I want to be a great dad. But my head was just polluted. You know, I just had stuff I just wasn’t mentally ready for this chapter life. So I had some decisions to make. I could either keep it in which I had been for months, and every day felt like a year in itself. So it was just beating me up. Or I could have the courageous conversation with my best friend with my partner with my rock with my soulmate, Myra. And I put it off for as long as I could. And finally, I felt like I just I hit rock bottom. So I had to talk to her. And I was afraid of whatever her reaction would be like, is she gonna judge me as a husband? As a dad? Like, I don’t know, are we in trouble? Like, those are the things going through my mind. And I literate, I told her exactly how I was feeling with way more color than I just did. And her reaction is something I’ll never forget. She said, I’ve been waiting to have this conversation for months. I know you you just haven’t been yourself. And then Karen, she said, we are gonna get through this. That’s awesome. We she took a me problem and made it a wee problem. And all of a sudden, this really dark yellow light in my life. It almost started to flicker green. And over the days and the weeks and every single day, it just became a little bit greener. And like all of a sudden the love and the connection and like, we want to talk about a green light though, like Mayra she was already a green light. Now you can add 20 Exclamation marks. And I think that’s one of the most beautiful things of making better decisions faster is when you can find the right yellow lights and transform them into a green light that is so powerful. And now, our family of three soon to be family of four like now it’s amazing. Now it’s a green light. Now it’s a Hallmark card that I expected from day one, I just had to go through a yellow storm to get there. And I think that’s a beautiful lesson for all of us is like when you truly have your heart on board. You always want to stay in the fight the opposite yellow, we’re only our head is on board, which we could totally unpack that I’m happy to go there. But that was really my rock bottom transformation that I said, this has to be a message that is shared with the world. And actually my wife, myRA is the one that encouraged me. She said, I know you’re putting the story of you being a dad in your first six months in the book, right? And I was like, no, what are you talking about? And she actually kind of nudged me and pushed me and challenged me. She’s like, Dude, you got to go there. Yeah, you have to. And there’s too many people that are in similar yellow lights. Not even just with parenting, but just life and business overall. And so that’s why I kick off with that story. Because I just feel like a lot of lives can be changed because

Kara Goldin 14:40
I love that. So I thank you for sharing that because I think that that’s a very relatable thing for so many people just to be able to hear that you had been through it and what you were thinking about, I think as we navigate the post pandemic world too I feel like a lot of people are in this I’m not sure exactly what to do, I talked to a number of people who were trying to figure out, are they in the right job I, I’ve always viewed that, or shared with, with friends that have talked to me about this, that maybe they’re not even the right career. And many of them haven’t even thought about that. But I feel like I’ve recommended your book. Now to a few people who are going through this process, because I feel like, it shouldn’t just be, I’m going from, you know, a to be job, maybe they should actually go back to the process that you’re laying out with the framework and actually do that work first to figure out, oh, maybe I’m actually bored, right, maybe I’m gonna go from, you know, the, the strongest company in a category to, you know, the second company in that category, maybe that’s what you should be doing. Maybe you should totally go into a different industry, or, you know, as you did a totally different field of work. And then that will allow you to learn and do all kinds of things. So, I’d love to hear how if somebody is thinking about, you know, changing jobs or changing careers, why it’s so important to go back and, and do this to

Paul Epstein 16:26
100%. So we’ll tie it back to the head, heart hands equation in just a sec. But let me speaking of pivoting and speaking of massive career changes and leaves, and by the way, I’m not one of those that just screams from the mountaintops that everybody should burn the boats and leave what they’re doing and start their own company. Sometimes that is the right answer. But sometimes it’s not. So I’m not pushing folks in that direction. But I’ll share a quick story on what ended up being my Jerry Maguire leap out of sports. And that colored a lot of what became the head heart hands equation as well, because you have to anchor it to the biggest decisions you’ve made, not just the ones that worked out, but more importantly, the ones you learn from. So here’s what happened. I go back to get my executive MBA handful of years back, and a University of Michigan Ross School of Business. And the biggest ROI of the program had nothing to do with the content, the curriculum. My cohort was absolutely amazing sisters and brothers for life. But none of those were the biggest ROI. The biggest ROI was my executive coach. The program provided us with an executive coach, her name is Suzanne. And Suzanne changed my life. And here’s the conversation. I’m still at the Niners at the time. She says Paul, I know what you do. The exact sales Niners got it answered three things for me. What do you love about it? What do you hate about it? And what do you tolerate? So everyone listening in, ask yourself, What do I love? What do I hate? What do I tolerate and dissect that sand and said go deeper on the love bucket? I said, Okay. Suanne Well, I love the people side. I love the culture side. I love being a coach, just like you. And she said, Awesome. On a good day, what percentage of your time do you do that? And that’s the Kara where I started to slouched down in my chair like, oh my gosh, I hate this answer. I pumped it up a little ego. I told her 20 The truth is probably five to 10%. And I said it was two and 20%. She goes, Okay, if I wave a wand, and you become your boss tomorrow, does that number 20% go up, down or sideways? Oh my gosh, my boss is almost exclusively strategy, almost nothing with people. And I said so. And I think it goes down. And this was the question that changed everything for me. So and said, So what are you after? And it’s such a simple question. But it has such profound meaning for me. Because Kara shame on me. I was so busy climbing a ladder, that it had been over a decade that I asked myself what I was after. I wish is climbing. I was just winning. I was just succeeding. And I thought that’s what we’re supposed to do. And so what Suanne got me to realize is on climbing a ladder that I don’t even want what’s next? What am I doing? And as soon as I had that breakthrough moment, I realized, you know what, I do love the sports industry. But I don’t love my job and I’m not doing what I’m passionate about. I’m living but I don’t feel alive. I lacked the all the passion in the purpose. And so that was the start of a process that I had to come to grips with it and you know, like you’ve had some pretty, for lack of better term sexy jobs and I’ve had some sexy jobs and you know what when jobs are sexy, it’s really hard to leave. Because to some extent, they become a part of your identity. And I was like, Oh man, who am I without this sports thing, because that had been my whole career. So you go through the fear, you go through the stress, you go through the anxiety, you go through a little bit of that identity crisis. And, you know, now I can easily tell the story and say, I’m not saying it was easy, but it was swaggin that opened up my head to connect with my heart. And here’s how I would apply to everyone listening in. Because it’s not just about taking a leap. It’s about understanding what your green lights are. And there’s different forms of green lights. So head and heart being on board, are you a green light about your industry? Are you a green light about your company, your green light about your boss, your green light about your team, if you’re an entrepreneur, you a green light about your product or service, you have a green light culture. So I think there’s so many different lenses to look at this from. And I’m not saying we should leave anything that’s yellow, or red immediately. But I’m also saying that the only way you’re going to feel alive, the only way you’re going to feel a spirit of abundance, the only way you’re going to drive massive impact and contribution and leave the legacy you’re proud of, you’ve got to turn your life into a lot of green lights. And I think I’m as guilty as anybody when you hang out to wrong. And when you hang out too long in the wrong yellows. See, the thing about reds is, at least they’re done. You pull the trigger, no moss, but the bad yellow Kara where our head is on board. And our heart is not. That’s a very slow death, because now it might take years to make the decision, you might actually never make the decision. And then it’s too late. And now you die with regret. So I’m just trying to get a more proactive mindset to say when only your head is on board, your heart ain’t gonna join for the party, your heart is not going to be different tomorrow, I promise you that. So the bad yellow is when our head is on board without the heart that is a permanent yellow that will never become a green. I’m trying to coach people out of those yellows. It’s so

Kara Goldin 22:15
interesting. I thought about as I was reading your book, too, that, you know, a key measure. I think for most people for success, it has to include happiness, right? I know plenty of very wealthy people as as you do as well, that are not happy. And they don’t really feel like they’re successful. So I think figuring this piece out while you can, I think is just so so key if you if your goal is to be successful, you have to find that the heart, right and and really figure out is this what I really should be doing. So I think doing the work, everything that you’re talking about is is really terrific. You have a confidence quiz in your book, I’d love to just kind of why is this important for people, and we’re gonna have a link to it as well, which you graciously have given the people on the podcast the opportunity to go and and take that. But why is that so important?

Paul Epstein 23:20
Absolutely. Yeah. So by way of backstory, the whole story I shared about Sue Ann, and the executive coach that changed my life. If you asked me to distill it down, the biggest gift that she gave me, was confidence. She gave me confidence to make better decisions faster. She gave me confidence to believe in myself. She gave me confidence to reimagine what my journey would look like, and not play scared not play defense. And so I just wanted to pay it forward. Because again, confidence. Nobody disagrees that confidence is a beautiful thing to have. Of course we all want Unshakable Confidence. Literally, the subtitle of better decisions faster is unshakable confidence when you need it most. And I realized that there’s a massive confidence gap in the world care. And a lot of this is thanks to the research. First of all, let’s just talk on the human level individual, scary stats to share 85% of people lack confidence in self, then on a business scale, the same number 85% of leaders lack confidence in their team. And then 76% of people lack confidence in their leader. So you are talking about a kind of a vicious storm here. Like those are not pretty stats to share. So clearly, there’s confidence gaps, but again, I don’t want to complain about them. I want to provide solutions. And so whether it’s self confidence or the ability to inspire confidence from others, I think competence is something that can truly take us to the next level. So the quiz, here’s the cool thing about the quiz, a it takes less than five minutes and B you walk away with a confidence score of one until 100. But here’s the kicker, I used to think confidence was like a light switch, you’re either confident or you’re not. It’s on or it’s off. Now I have a different take. I don’t think it’s a light switch. I think it’s a dimmer switch. And so 1% at a time it goes up, it comes down. And the key is, what’s your default setting is the dimmer typically high? Is it in the middle is it low. So when you take this quiz, all it’s going to do is give you a current data point, maybe you are a 92 out of 100. Amazing, maybe you’re an 80 Really good 70 Little bit of work to do 40 A lot of work to do. But no judgment, because it’s a dimmer switch, it doesn’t mean you’re not confident, it just means we need to raise it up. So after the five minute quiz, and after getting that initial data point of confidence, score one to 100. Then with your email score, you get a resource of my 12 keys to not only build but also sustain Unshakable Confidence. So all of that is a gift from me, from my heart care to all your listeners and wonderful community. And it’s all on my website, Paul Epstein And in the main nav bar, you’ll see confidence quiz. And literally in less than five minutes, you will know where you stand one to 100.

Kara Goldin 26:17
I love that. So I think that that’s the start. Everybody needs to get this book as well. And I think more than anything, getting a hold of your own clarity will give you the confidence will give you the ability to go and make those better decisions. Paul is such a great mentor to be able to really help people not stay in this, this yellow zone, almost leaning towards red where they can’t get out of it and they can’t move forward, which I’m always talking about is really its death. Right? Like if you just sit there all the time. Nothing good is gonna happen. Hope is not a strategy, as as many people have heard me say. So definitely, definitely. Everyone’s got to pick this up. So Paul, thank you for sharing it. Thank you for writing this too. You’re also doing tons of keynotes right now, which I encourage everyone to check out Paul’s website too. If you have an opportunity to get him to come in and speak to your team. That’s also definitely something that you should do. So really incredible. Thank you again, and I can’t wait for more Paul to come on the horizon, too. So thank you, Dan.

Paul Epstein 27:39
I love it. Thank you, Kara. And just from the heart. Thank you for being a green light in my life. Thank

Kara Goldin 27:44
you. Thank you, you as well. All right, have a great rest of the week, Paul and everyone else. Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review. And feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen or pick up a copy of my book undaunted, which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and good bye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is whereby new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening