“I know people can overcome their past and their old ways of being and acting because I’ve done it myself…”
by Yitzi Weiner, A “Positive” Influencer
I had the pleasure of interviewing John Assaraf — serial entrepreneur, brain researcher, and CEO of NeuroGym. John is the author of two New York Times best-selling books, “Having It All” and “The Answer,” and was featured in the blockbuster movie “The Secret.” His brand-new book is called “Innercise: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power.” John is one of the leading behavioral and mindset experts in the world, with a unique ability to help people release the mental and emotional obstacles that prevent them from achieving their very best in life and business. In the last 25 years he has built 5 multimillion-dollar companies, including growing RE/MAX of Indiana to $4.5 billion a year in sales.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’m an international best-selling author with books in print in over 30 languages, and featured teacher from the hit film and book, “The Secret,” which I helped launch into a worldwide phenomenon. But no one who knew me as a kid (not even my parents) would have ever believed I could achieve this level of success.
As a kid, I was a misfit. I had a bad attitude about school, and I practically lived in the principal’s office. Looking back, I know now that the problem was the limiting beliefs I formed in response to challenges and painful experiences I had growing up — and the uncertainty and lack of confidence that resulted from feeling that I wasn’t smart or good enough to succeed.
By the time I was in my early teens, “normal” to me meant feeling insecure and uncertain. I didn’t believe that I possessed the intelligence or ability to succeed in the real world. Feeling rejected by most of my classmates, I ended up hanging around the only people who would accept me — a group of trouble-making thugs.
My companions’ influence soon rubbed off. I got into fights almost daily, which meant I was a near-permanent presence in the principal’s office. But the punishments my school dished out were nothing compared to what waited for me at home. My father was a taxi driver, and every time he had to pick me up at school, it meant he couldn’t be driving to earn a living. His resentment, shame, and anger toward me would boil over, and I’d pay the price with vicious physical beatings.
I was still living a dual life. One John was a nice polite boy from a nice family, who held a real job earning 65 cents an hour at the local pharmacy. The other John was a lying, stealing idiot with low self-esteem, almost no morals, and the skills of a hard-boiled egg. I knew I couldn’t keep living my life with such extremes, so when I was 19, I chose the path I believed promised me a better life. I broke free from my friends, my school, and an environment that offered me nothing more than a shot at mediocrity. Despite having no money, no job, and only a grade 11 education, I left Montréal and moved to Toronto, Canada, where the only person I knew was my brother.
There, thanks to the sage advice of a wonderful businessman, I decided to change my life and get serious. I borrowed money and enrolled in a real estate course. Five eye-opening weeks later, I earned my real estate license. It was one of the first and only times in my life that I didn’t cheat on a test. I had so badly wanted to succeed in a way that I could be proud of myself instead of feeling ashamed. For the first time ever, I paid the price of discipline. I can still feel the pride and awe that I actually did it on my own.
Receiving my real estate license was a turning point for me. I felt like my slate had been wiped clean and my transgressions of the past had been forgotten. Now I could make something of my life; all I had to do was work hard and upgrade my knowledge and skills.
That’s when I began learning about the awesome power within each one of us to change no matter what has happened to us. I learned about the power of God, our amazing brains, and the importance of setting goals and then becoming the person who can achieve them.
My purpose in life is to help millions of people believe in and utilize their God-given abilities by providing them with the environment and resources to acquire the confidence, certainty, and personal power to achieve their life’s purpose and goals.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
My latest business venture is NeuroGym, a brain research and product development company to help people free themselves from the bondage of their past, bad habits, and limited thinking or fears. Through NeuroGym, they can acquire the confidence, certainty, and personal power to achieve their life’s goals and purpose.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My first mentor was a man named Alan Brown; for some reason, he took a liking to me and wanted to help me succeed. He gave me motivational books and tapes; he also enrolled me in seminars that filled my mind with positivity and filled my heart with hope. Every day he would come into the office to say a few kind words to me, lifting my spirits as he told me how proud he was of my efforts and progress. He saved a struggling kid who was on the path to jail or the morgue and gave me a real chance at a life I could be proud of.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I know people can overcome their past and their old ways of being and acting because I’ve done it myself, and I’ve helped thousands of other people accomplish this in their own lives. My mission is to help people achieve more than they ever thought possible.
I work with world-renowned brain and success experts to create programs that focus on brain-training techniques and technologies to upgrade people’s mindset, skillset, and behaviors. Helping people win the inner game within their head will have the greatest impact on not only their life, but also their family, friends, and the world.
In addition, my wife and I support numerous charities with our time and money as a way of giving back and giving others hope.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill and “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen were two of the books I studied early on that showed me the power of my thoughts and my focus. Every day I would sit in my chair at the office and fill my brain with positive affirmations and emotions around success. I was taught to pay close attention to my self-talk and my behaviors and to adjust, adjust, adjust — every single day.
The next book that is a powerhouse is called “YOU2 by Price Pritchett. It’s a killer book on making a quantum leap instead of making small linear gains in performance.
What are your “5 things I wish someone had told me before I become an entrepreneur” and why?
1. That success in business is predictable when you follow proven steps.
2. ASK FOR HELP! I was afraid to show my ignorance because of my low self worth; today I JUMP in quickly and ask for help.
3. You cannot do it all by yourself.
4. Know your position on the team. Know what you are good at and what you are not, and then get help.
5. The idea is only worth 5 percent. The strategies, tactics and plans: 20 percent. Being able to take action every day to follow the plan and tweak it: 80 percent.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I love to meet and talk with anyone who is playing the game they are in at the highest level. I don’t care if it’s sports or knitting: I want to know their mindset, their rituals, their process, their daily habits, their mistakes, and what their steps are for getting to success.
Originally published at medium.com