Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Aubrey: I think it would surprise people that I’m actually a little bit shy. I am comfortable leading a company (Onnit) with close to 200 employees, podcasting for millions, and speaking in front of thousands, but if you put me in a networking event where I don’t know anyone, I’ll clam up and either leave or just open my journal and start writing.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
I failed at pretty much everything I did, but I learned from every single thing. I failed making it as a college basketball player, I failed as an investor, I failed with a dozen companies, but every time I failed I learned a little something more. Finally, I was able to put it all together and build the company and life that I had always dreamed about.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Aubrey: Leaders must remember that they are of service to the ones they lead, and not the other way around. Yes, as a leader you will have plenty of people to carry out tasks, but you are responsible for helping them be successful at every task they do, and making sure that the tasks you assign are important.
Leaders also need to prove that they are willing to pay what I call the blood price. If you are going to reap a disproportionate amount of reward, you must be willing to pay a disproportionate price when the times arise. There is a famous story of Alexander the Great who used to lead his army from the front, with a double plumed helmet so the enemy would know exactly who he was. When his army was threatening mutiny, he stood before him, stripped off all his armor and clothing and showed a body criss crossed with a hundred battle scars. He proclaimed to his men “Bring forth a man who has bled more than me, and we will go home.” No man stepped forward. That is a leader.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Aubrey: The first tip is to find a way to relieve stress. Stress is a fire that will consume you, and with it consume your business. Whether that is an activity in motion that induces flow state, or a quiet state like meditation, it is absolutely necessary.
The second tip is make yourself the customer. If you don’t believe and use what you are selling or promoting, or if you don’t live like the people you are leading, you can’t be effective.
The third tip is to understand that there is nothing but a process. You aren’t going to be happy when you reach some magical benchmark, you better be happy now, in the process, because all there is–is process.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Aubrey: The best piece of advice is a pretty simple one: Do your best. That’s all you are ever responsible for.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Aubrey: Recognize that it isn’t just charitable contributions to impoverished people aren’t the only way to make an impact. Have conversations with people you normally wouldn’t, show up for friends when they need you. If you’re the guy with the big house, visit your buddy at his little house and have dinner with his family. Love is the only medicine that doesn’t have a dose limit, so spread it everywhere.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Aubrey: A hobby is a weird word. I love life. I like shooting bows, and throwing axes, and playing any game with a ball, and dancing, and making love, and cooking, and training, and exploring. They are a big part of why I work so hard, because I get to really enjoy all of the experiences this life has to offer.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Aubrey: We have an opportunity for an extraordinary experience in our lives. We just have to break out of the prison of our mind, to find our way into paradise.