Taking an idea and creating a viable business out of it requires us to get very uncomfortable. It requires us to do the things we were unwilling to do in the past: trust ourselves, become more visible, risk public failure, bet on ourselves. I became more and more comfortable being uncomfortable and doing the things that terrified me. I made my vision more compelling than my fear.
As part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tristan Gutner. Tristan is a transformation coach and speaker for purpose-driven entrepreneurs and leaders. He created the Quantum Leap Method which is designed to help his clients rapidly increase their income and impact while eradicating burnout and confusion. Using the method he now teaches others, Tristan went from painting houses to running a + 6-figure coaching business within 12 months. Tristan is committed to helping today’s leaders take control of the results in their businesses and lives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Tristan! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
As a kid, I was fascinated with human behavior, human dynamics, and helping people. I knew that our capacity for rapid growth was immense, and I really wanted to help people transform. I was always aware of the things people clearly felt but didn’t express. Watching two people interacting, there was a meta-conversation happening too. I could see all the moving pieces, and exactly what someone needed to transform within themselves in order to create the result they wanted. It was like seeing all of this untapped potential in people.
This was a challenging experience as a kid. I was extremely confused (as to) why people weren’t addressing all the dynamics I was observing and then making the necessary changes to transform their lives. It seemed like no one was talking about this thing that was so clear to me and would affect massive positive change in their worlds.
I felt isolated a lot of the time because I didn’t know how to talk to people about what I was experiencing, and most people didn’t seem very interested in addressing it anyhow.
So I shut that part of myself down for a long time. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I started to realize that this part of me that had seemed to cause me so much pain was actually one of my gifts. When I finally owned that part of myself I realized I could help a lot of people, and that was really exciting.
What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah-ha” moment with us?
Honestly, it just became too painful not to. At the time I was running a house painting business, and coaching on the side. I had a really deep passion to help people in their lives and businesses through coaching, but I was consumed by self-doubt and terrified to take the leap.
I was talking to a mentor of mine and I just broke down in tears. I was so frustrated and so tired of being half in and half out.
The pain of not doing what I loved became more compelling than my self-doubt and the fear of failure. That pain point became the fulcrum I used to leverage this huge shift in my life.
I just decided: my money does not come from painting houses, it comes from coaching and from truly helping others.
That moment truly changed everything; I quit painting houses the following week and took my coaching business to over six figures in less than 12 months.
There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
Taking an idea and creating a viable business out of it requires us to get very uncomfortable. It requires us to do the things we were unwilling to do in the past: trust ourselves, become more visible, risk public failure, bet on ourselves.
I became more and more comfortable being uncomfortable and doing the things that terrified me.
I made my vision more compelling than my fear.
What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?
I would encourage them to really look under the hood and ask themselves: “Why am I reluctant to do this? What am I really afraid of? When I’m on my death-bed do I want to look back and think: thank God I allowed my fear to keep me safe? Or do I want to look and know that I really went after what I was put here to do?
It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?
I stay focused on WHY I do what I do. I am really passionate about my work. Running the business requires me to do lots of things I’m less passionate about so I choose to see those parts as a necessary means to an end. I made the choice long ago that I’ll happily do them because they enable me to help others and do what I came here to do.
What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?
I love the freedom of running my own business. Something a lot of people see as a downside of running your own business is that everything is your responsibility. It can feel like a lot of pressure, or it can feel like a tremendous amount of freedom. The freedom in personal responsibility is found when you start looking at everything from a solution mindset: if there’s a problem, there must be a solution. If there’s confusion, there must be a way to find clarity. To think that way is one of the most liberating experiences a human can give themselves.
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?
Not exactly. I’ve been frustrated, confused, and exhausted to the point of wanting to give up, but it never gets to the point of actually considering a 9–5 job. For me, the quickest way to move past this point is using curiosity instead of self-pity. Instead of saying “why me … this is so hard” I ask myself “who do I need to become to move through this challenge?”. This question helps me refocus and remember that immense personal growth is required for any of us to fulfill our purpose.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It wasn’t funny at the time, but it definitely is in retrospect. When I first started my business I’d ask everyone, how do I get clients? The answer was always the same: go meet people. And I couldn’t really take that in. I wanted a magic bullet that would instantaneously bring me all the clients I wanted. But they were right. Businesses are built on connection. My business really took off when I put myself out there. I would have saved myself a lot of time and worry if I listened to that advice earlier.
Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?
I’m inspired by anyone who has a vision and is willing to experience whatever is required to fulfill that vision. The list is long, from Muhammad Ali to Gandhi to Iyanla Vanzant to my mentor David Neagle to many others. These are people who were willing to be transformed by life in order to serve others.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Fail forward. Failure is just an opportunity to collect data and course-correct.
- Stay in your lane. We all want to emulate the people who have inspired us, but in reality, we’re all here to offer our unique gifts. If you’re willing to do this, success is inevitable.
- Self-awareness is always the next step. Get clear on how you created the current challenge. Once you do, the next step always presents itself.
- If it scares you it’s probably the right direction to go. When you’re at a crossroads in your business, and one direction scares you, go that way. It scares you because it requires you to grow.
- Be kind to yourself. It seems like a no-brainer, but … running a business will stretch you in ways you could never have imagined, and when things don’t go the way you planned self-judgment shows up really quickly. It’s very difficult to make smart decisions through a lens of shame, guilt, and self-judgment. Self-love for the win … it’s the only real foundation to operate from.
What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think the biggest gift you can give a person is to help them understand that their dreams, the highest visions they have for their life, are there to transform them into the best version of themselves, and to enable them to help the greatest number of people. They are there for a reason. Committing to your dream, in life and business, requires a tremendous amount of courage. The fact that the dream is there in the first place is evidence of your capacity to fulfill it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Man’s chief delusion is that there are causes other than his own state of consciousness” — Neville Goddard
He’s saying that we are the cause of every effect we experience in our lives. How/what we think determines absolutely everything.
Every time I hit a ceiling in my business I stop and get very clear on how I created it: how did my past thinking and actions create this result? Once I’m clear on that I know exactly what I need to change in order to rapidly create a new result.
This way of thinking keeps us out of victimhood in our lives and businesses. We are the architect of everything we experience.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Gary Vaynerchuk — I absolutely love his blend of heart and fire, and the guy is brilliant.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.