As soon as you wake up in the morning, instead of reaching for your phone, spend five minutes in your head going through the things you appreciate in your life. When I wake up, I count the things I’m thankful for — simple things like my kids are healthy, I’m healthy;
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Idan Shpizear.
Idan started 911 Restoration with nothing but a Volvo and a carpet cleaner that barely fit in the backseat. Today, his company’s famous orange trucks are parked outside homes all across America. He is now a thought leader in restoration and business, with a nationwide company Entrepreneur ranks among the top franchises in the United States. As a mentor, author, and sought-after speaker, Idan has transformed countless small, struggling businesses into thriving enterprises with his unique perspective and drive.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Imoved from Israel to Los Angeles in 1999 with $1,500. My impression of America was that it’s a land of opportunity and money grows on trees, but I quickly realized that while there are more opportunities here, it isn’t as easy as it seems to make a living. I didn’t speak English and saved money by eating at McDonald’s and sharing a two-bedroom apartment with five guys. My business partner and I started out as carpet cleaners, and once we gathered the technical knowledge, we realized that we could make more money in damage restoration. We started buying our own blowers and humidifiers and taking on our own jobs. Eventually, in 2002, we were able to buy out our boss, and within three years, the business grew from $200,000 a year to $250,000 a month.
When I was starting out in restoration, I noticed that a lot of restoration companies were paying attention to the physical damage but not the emotional damage that property owners go through. The human side is everything. In the service business, you must understand why people are calling you and sympathize with what they’re going through.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
When we first moved to LA, we used a Thomas Guide to get to jobs because smart phones and GPS technology weren’t around yet. The way Thomas Guide works is that each guide covers a different county — LA, Orange County, San Diego, etc. And the guides connect from county to county, so you can go from page 175 in the LA guide and it’ll connect with page 210 in the Orange County guide. However, if you don’t know the counties work and how the Thomas Guide works, then the book is not useful.
Two weeks into our carpet cleaning job, we had an address that was on the border of Orange County and LA. I’m sitting in the car trying to figure out how to get to this place, and I cannot find the pages. So my first thought is, my guide is broken.
So, I drove back to the gas station where I bought the Thomas Guide. Keep in mind that when we first moved out here, my English was very broken. We stood there for an hour arguing with the guy at the gas station saying the pages were missing, but we couldn’t understand each other, so eventually he just gave us a new guide. So of course, after a little while longer, we figure the pages are still missing and we go back to the gas station and get into another argument because we thought all the Thomas Guides this guy was selling were fake.
Finally, somebody took the time to explain to us how the Thomas Guide works from county to county — but only after three hours of arguing with the guy at the gas station.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Business is a spiritual game and the people you hire are the most important part of your business. I just spoke with my friend the other day about some business owners we know, and the only thing they care about is money. They’re always firing people, taking advantage of their clients, and changing companies every three or four years. You can see a huge difference right when you walk into their offices. Talking to their teams, you immediately get a bad vibe. There’s a culture that nobody cares about the work and it’s all about how much money you get at the end of the month.
Business is all about serving people and solving problems. When you get good people to work together, then everything shifts and over time, that creates a great culture of caring and being open and transparent in business.
For example, at 911 Restoration, all the different teams share their OKR goals with everybody. We try to keep things open so that everybody knows where the business is going and what we’re trying to do.
I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a point where we say our culture is amazing and there’s no more room for improvement. We learn every day. The correct mindset is to understand that over time, you keep improving and learning and asking yourself how to make the company culture better and better.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Alchemist by Pablo Coelho — Many years ago I bought it for everybody in the office and we read and talked about it together as a team.
It’s about the power of our internal world, our own dialogue, to create our own life as opposed to just reacting to things that happen to us. The universe has a message for us and we need to be open and understand outside forces, but the lesson I learned from the book is that I can choose my path in life. I can choose how I react to things that happen and who I want to surround myself with to help me grow as a human being. It’s about asking yourself, “who do I want to become?” instead of, “what do I want to have?”
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?
It’s a state of clarity and ease at the same time. When you’re not in a state of mindfulness, you’re in a very reactive mode and there’s always some amount of stress. When there’s a lot of noise in the back of your head, that usually creates stress, anxiety, and confusion, which puts us in a reactive mode.
Reactive means that you’re not processing your own thoughts and emotions; instead, you’re reacting to everything around you. For example, you might think about your life in the context of what other people do to you: “They didn’t smile at me.” “What do they think about me?” “How do I look to that person? How do I sound?”
In a state of mindfulness, you’re more focused on what you want to do from an internal perspective, and emotions don’t take over. You’re clear on what you want to do and why it’s important.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
You have a lot more energy and you’re less tense. A lot of pain goes away. You feel cleaner and healthier.
From a mental standpoint, you’re clear and focused because you’re controlling your mind. You’re using your mind instead of your mind using you. You can tell your mind to focus on a certain thing. You’re more creative.
Humans average 95,000 thoughts a day, and 85% of those thoughts are just your mind rehashing the things that happened yesterday and the day before that, and so on. In the same way that your heart is beating all the time, your mind is also thinking all the time, whether you want it to or not. When you’re mindful, you’re directing the thoughts and they’re clearer to you, as opposed to just being exhausted by all the noise in your head.
You’re also more accepting of others because you don’t judge them as much. When you’re more confident, clear, and open, you’re more likely to accept others because emotional fear isn’t taking over.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- As soon as you wake up in the morning, instead of reaching for your phone, spend five minutes in your head going through the things you appreciate in your life. When I wake up, I count the things I’m thankful for — simple things like my kids are healthy, I’m healthy; there are two people dying every second, but I’m still here. Even if it’s just for a minute in the morning, doing this will immediately put you in a better mindset. You can also do this before you go to sleep at night.
- Drinking green juice or water with lemon in the morning will help your body cleanse and improve acidity levels.
- Even if you’re not a yoga person, just spending 5 minutes stretching is very helpful and good for your body.
- The five-second breathing practice: breathe in for five seconds, hold it in for five seconds, breathe out for five seconds, and repeat 10 times. This calms down your mind and brings you into an alpha brain state, where you’re more creative and conscious.
- On your morning commute, find somebody that you like on YouTube, or a song, or something else that’s inspiring to you. Spend five to ten minutes listening to inspirational messages, and you’ll be in a good mood.
The key is to be conscious and aware as you’re doing these things. When we do things out of the norm, you move from an automatic response brain into a conscious response brain. Create your day instead of reacting to your day.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Put yourself in a good mindset first, before you try to help others. If you’re not doing the five things from the last question to put yourself in a good place, you won’t be as effective when you try to help someone who’s feeling anxious.
- Listen to the person instead of just reacting to them
- Allow the person to be who they are and let them be comfortable with what they’re feeling
- Be mindful before you try to get somebody else to be mindful
- Make it clear to the person that you care about them
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
There are so many resources on the internet. I did the Inner Engineering course about 10 years ago and I loved it. You can do it from home — it’s simple and not expensive.
The best resource is you as a person; start making small changes. You can go read 100 books, but if you’re not making small changes, you won’t get anywhere. If you used to put your right shoe on first, start putting your left shoe on first tomorrow to put you in a conscious state of mind and get out of your automatic response system.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Before you try to understand the world outside of you, understand the world inside of you.”
The idea of exploring my inner world has shifted so many things in my life. It made me think, “hold on, there’s really an entire world inside of us.” Once I really thought about this sentence and I started exploring more internally, I realized that the situation outside of me changed immediately. For example, I could sit in traffic for an hour and curse the world out and be miserable, or I could choose to have a different dialogue in my head and think, “Wow, I have an opportunity now for an hour to learn something new.” So I can find a lesson on YouTube and use that extra time for growth and development.
I can walk into a meeting and instead of thinking, say, “people don’t like me,” or “they don’t like how I sound,” I now walk into meetings and think about how I can create the meeting to be a certain way. It’s important to understand that everything really happens inside of you, not outside. It’s all about how you translate what happened to you. It’s your choices and internal dialogue that make the biggest difference.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
Companies, especially small businesses, should try to uplift people instead of just providing their services. Businesses interact with a lot of people in their community. When they’re successful, they have more money to put into the community through taxes and bolstering the economy. As businesses grow, they have the potential to transform communities through positive interactions and uplifting the people they interact with.
At 911 Restoration, we have the Be The Fresh Start Foundation, our charitable effort to better the lives of others for years to come. We’ve partnered with the Youth Business Alliance and Brighter Children to raise money for international childhood education. Our charity is a direct result of our company-wide Fresh Start Attitude, which means that our goal is to not only fix your home or business but to also help you recover emotionally after a disaster. We always strive to have a positive impact on our customers and communities. Be The Fresh Start is a movement and we don’t want to keep it just to ourselves. We want other companies to spread the positivity.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!