Mitch Matthews likes to say that he has the best job on the planet. His job description: help people “dream, think and do.”
An internationally recognized speaker, author and podcaster, Mitch is the rare combination of storyteller, coach and strategist. Whether he’s speaking to an audience of thousands or interviewing a guest for a podcast, Mitch connects with people young, old and everywhere in between.
We sat down with the Des Moines-based author to learn more about his book, podcast, brain science and how he helps people “punch worry in the face.”
1. With your book, IGNITE, you share 3 strategies to help people re-spark their “buried dreams.” What was the genesis for this book and what role did personal experience play in it?
We do something we call, “BIG Dream Gatherings” on college campuses around the country. I speak to kick off these gatherings. Then everyone writes down some of their big dreams and goals and posts them on the walls. Then we see if everyone can help each other out in some small or big way. As you can imagine… it’s an incredible experience. Plus, we’ve seen some amazing things happen as a result.
I saw the need for IGNITE when I started hearing from people during and after these BIG Dream Gatherings. Attendees were asking me about strategies for dreaming even bigger and then building plans to make those dreams a reality. Most of the time it was busy college students who were asking the questions. So I knew I needed to write IGNITE so the concepts would work amid the crazy busy life of today’s college student.
2. With your ‘DREAM.THINK. DO’ Podcast, you offer science, strategies, and stories to help listeners dream bigger, think better and do more. What have you learned from interviewing so many creative and inspiring people?
I’ve been blown away by the people I’ve been able to interview for the podcast! We’ve had everyone from best-selling authors to anchors from Good Morning America to an endurance swimmer who navigates ships and sharks on a daily basis! Even though my guests have been pretty diverse, there are certain things that seem to play out in every conversation.
One thing is that people had to give themselves “permission to prepare.” That might sound trite, but it’s true. Now, I’m not just talking about getting your degree in a particular field. I’m talking about thinking outside the box and looking for other ways to prepare. For example, in my interview with Good Morning America’s Sara Haines, she talked about how she didn’t get her degree in broadcast journalism. After she had moved to New York to pursue her dream of being on network TV, she started to take improv classes to prepare for her big break. That paid off a few years ago when Sara went from “temp status” to being a regular fixture on the Today Show due to her ability to think on her feet on LIVE TV! (Thanks in part to all those improv classes!)
Another aspect that I’ve seen time and time again is giving yourself permission to stay true to your dream. Now this can play out in a lot of different ways. One of the most powerful examples was when bestselling author Brendon Burchard told me about how he gave a $2 million dollar advance back to his former publisher. Why? It was because they wanted him to change his newest book too much. Can you imagine that? Writing a check for $2 million in order to stay true to your vision? But he did it and wound up taking his book to another publisher. Since then he published the book in a way that was true to his vision and he’s been on the New York Times Best Seller list for 20+ weeks! So, sometimes it really does pay to stay true to your dreams!
3. One of your most in-demand keynote talks is, “Is Your Hair on Fire?,” where you talk about breaking out of the cycle of worry. Where does worry originate and what’s the first step to breaking free of it?
When it comes to overcoming worry, the first step is to identify what’s making us worry, to pinpoint it and call it out. Here’s the thing, some worry is good. If you were walking on the plains of the Serengeti and a pride of lions started to follow you, it would be GOOD to worry. Right? That kind of worry keeps you alive!
Bad worry is worry that turns chronic. Bad worry is worrying about an upcoming test and instead of identifying it and doing something about it, you start to lose sleep over it. You start to envision bombing it and then you see yourself flunking out of college and becoming homeless and living in a van in an alley somewhere! When we move into “bad worry,” we start to imagine all the terrible things that could happen and it has a negative impact on us.
Bad worry robs us of the “here and now” and has us seeing terrible outcomes that are outside our control. Bad worry shuts down our best thinking. Bad worry also makes us miss out on life! That’s why I really like to help people to punch worry in the face.
So yes, the first step is to identify it and even write it down. That helps you to take the next steps that we talk about. Those next steps are to replace that bad worry with better thinking and then take action!
4. You’re big on asking questions and the role the brain plays in this. What are the right questions to ask ourselves that lead to great results?
Questions are incredibly powerful because they help us to redirect our thinking.
It’s funny. Some people are huge advocates of “positive affirmations.” Affirmations are those statements that people say over and over to themselves. Statements like, “People like me.” or “I’m going to make a lot of money.” or “I’m successful!”
The problem with affirmations is that our brains are the ultimate “BS Detectors!” So if you state an affirmation to yourself, but your brain senses that it’s not true, it will lay down the “BS Card” and not believe it. So you can say “I’m successful,” a million times but if your brain doesn’t believe it, it’s just not going to help.
But, our brains can’t help but engage in a great question. So instead of affirmations, I like to pose various questions to my brain. Because although our brains have an incredible “BS Detector,” our brains also have an insatiable “Truth Seeker.” So if you pose a good question to your brain, it can’t help to dig in and try to answer it.
One example was when I started to ask myself the question, “How could I make $25,000 in a month?” At the time it seemed like a crazy question, but I just kept asking it. Then my brain kept coming up with different answers. Some were crazy and would never work. But some actually had merit. In fact, I started to apply some of the ideas I’d come up with and two months later I made $25,000 in a month! Now, I’m not going to say that this is some kind of magic. BUT our brains are AMAZING processors of information. The problem is that we tend to ask our brains bad questions. But if we switch it around and intentionally ask better questions, it’s pretty incredible to see what our brains will uncover.
5. You have a strong online presence and great personal website. How do you get great value out of about.me?
about.me has been huge because it’s a unique platform that’s enabled me to connect with some freakishly cool people who aren’t in my current circles and networks. I love how it pairs things down and it’s simple, intuitive, and actually fun to navigate. I’ve been able to connect with interesting and inspiring people who have either turned into guests for my podcasts, clients for my business or just amazing to learn from!
Antonio Neves is the Director of Higher Education for about.me. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. You can find him on Twitter at @TheAntonioNeves.