Our special guest today from Ohio is Jamal Maxsam, the author of the book Skip The Rat Race: How to Seize Your Bright Future and Live it Now. That’s a great title and great subtitle. Welcome Jamal. How are you?
Jamal Maxsam: I’m doing well. Thank you, David, for having me on your show.
David Brower: You are very welcome. So tell me how the book came about.
Jamal Maxsam: Well, basically the book came about from the concept of, from leading a school and just working with young adults and adults from different walks of life. During discussions, I found that a lot of people want to be successful but had different definitions of success, and so the first thing I would want to do is help people understand that success looks different for everyone, how to help them really learn how to define what success is for them, and then I began to write and put material together to help them take strategic steps towards making those goals and dreams a reality once they have defined their level of success.
David Brower: What’s your experience in putting all this together? Are you an educator? Are you a businessman? Are you both?
Jamal Maxsam: I have experience in both. I have degrees in business, as well as I’m an educator. I teach students. Currently, I’m a principal of a elementary school that services grades kindergarten through 5th, and I also do some work with some non-profits here in the Ohio area where I have the opportunity to speak to and do seminars to adults of a variety of ages and income levels, but it’s really my passion for business that really helps me in this [bang 00:01:50] that I work with.
David Brower: Yeah, yeah. In fact, my daughter-in-law is a principal in Beaverton, Oregon of a elementary school.
Jamal Maxsam: Okay, yeah.
David Brower: She handles the same grades as you do, so I feel a little bit of a connection. That’s pretty cool.
Jamal Maxsam: That is pretty cool because you learn a lot from leading a school-
David Brower: Oh my gosh, yeah.
Jamal Maxsam: Leading a school is more than just working with the students because you have to shift to be able to grow adults, to grow children. Then you have to shift in learning how to help parents, and so there’s a lot of different dynamics that come into play, and then you add the business aspect where you have to run the business side of the school and be a business person to deal with budgets and vendors and different things of that nature.
David Brower: Absolutely.
Jamal Maxsam: All of those experiences really, really help.
David Brower: Absolutely right, no question about it. She does run it as a business and has the time of her life with those kids, so I’m sure you do as well. It’s pretty special, enjoyable career when you’re able to touch kids that way, isn’t it?
Jamal Maxsam: Yeah. Yes, it is. I really enjoy it. The kids, they just need someone to love them and give them direction, to help them grow. They definitely will respond positively to what you’re doing.
David Brower: No question. So Skip The Rat Race will help you discover how your perspective affects your success, the role of mental maturity in success, and how to prepare to experience success. I totally get what you’re saying about each of us define success totally different, and so how does your book tap into those different kinds of definitions?
Jamal Maxsam: Well, basically, it just helps, it walks the reader through a self-evaluation on really identifying their dream, and then with their dream, they can identify, “Okay, this is what success looks like for me.” It gives them practical steps on how to move towards making that a reality. Why have a dream and why have a definition of what your life should be like if you’re not going to experience it? So for me, I feel like whatever your dream, whatever your passion is, you should be doing it because no matter what you achieve in life, if it’s not that thing that just wakes you up in the morning, then you won’t be fulfilled, and so we walk you through those kind of steps and we help people shift their perspective.
I know you mentioned that. You said, “Sometimes it’s how you view a thing will determine if you can make your dream a reality.” Some people may not like their present employment, but it may just be how they view it. If they view it as, “Okay. Maybe this is my mission to help this person’s vision come to pass or this person’s vision become a reality, then I find fulfillment in that, but if not, then what am I getting out of this position besides pay, because it can’t just be about the money. What am I learning to increase my skills to put me on the path towards fulfilling my dream?”
David Brower: I think most of us, I think this is a fair statement, most of us who feel, at least, like we’re fulfilling our dream, part of that dream is to pay it forward, and to pay it back, and to bring people alongside you in some fashion. You think that’s fair?
Jamal Maxsam: I do. I think that’s fair, and I think you’re exactly right because there’s no … John Maxwell says, “There’s no success without a successor.” So if you’re not helping someone achieve their dream, then there’s a piece of your dream that’s not being fulfilled because nobody is an island. We’re all connected in some kind of way, and so when other people are just as successful as you, and just as fulfilled as you, it brings more fulfillment to your life.
David Brower: Boy, I could not agree more. I was in radio for a very long time, I did a lot of different things, but when I was a sales manager as well as a general manager of a group of stations, I always told people that I want to hire my successor. They had a hard time understanding that until they got to know me well enough to know that was really part of my passion, was part of my deal, was “Hey, I’m here. I’m having a great time. I enjoy what I’m doing, but if I can help groom you to take my job, I’m all over that.”
Jamal Maxsam: Exactly. Some people are, and this is why I talk about the role maturity plays because some people haven’t matured to a level to understand that, and so they think they have to compete with you in order to have your position versus learn from you to have your position. Because I believe that you have to hire the person that’s going to take your job. A leader will hire other leaders and develop other leaders, and not develop a group of followers.
David Brower: Absolutely.
Jamal Maxsam: A group of followers will always be dependent upon the leader, and so a leader can step away and know that the organization or the pieces of the organization will run smoothly and effectively without that person.
David Brower: You’ve got to have that, especially in this day and age where we’re doing the rat race. I think that’s a very appropriate title. We’re going a hundred miles an hour, we want immediate gratification in whatever we’re doing. We’re in the microwave society, if you will, and so if you don’t have that kind of structure where you’re hiring and developing leaders instead of followers, boy those companies don’t last long, do they?
Jamal Maxsam: No, they don’t and they’re short-lived. They don’t have anything lasting, because when you’re talking about building an organization and being a leader, you’re talking about your legacy. What is it that you pass on to the next generation to help them better? What do you do to your current generation to help them better? If it’s just a short-lived kind of thing, it’s almost not as effective as it should be because you can’t have that lasting impact.
David Brower: If you’re an employee and there’s a burning desire inside of you that you’ve only shared with your wife and your dog, maybe, about wanting to become a CEO, how do you discover that piece of you, acknowledge it, and let it out?
Jamal Maxsam: Well, the key to that is you have to figure out, are you really meant to work for someone else? So when you are working for someone else, if you constantly have the desire to take on leadership positions or people are training you for leadership, and you really know that this … You have the feeling like, “This isn’t it,” that there’s more, and so that’s when you need to start really looking at, “Am I really … Should I really be a CEO,” because when you run someone else’s company as if it’s your own, nine times out of ten, that CEO in you needs to be let out.
So once you acknowledge that, then you can really, one, help the vision of the place you’re working because you will run it like it’s your own, but then also take the skills that you are learning and you’ll be able to apply them to a different scenario when the timing is right for you to step out into your own venture.
David Brower: I think that, at least that was my experience, is you treat the business as if it were your own, that way you have … Everybody sees that. Whether you say it out loud or not, you model that for the rest of your team.
Jamal Maxsam: Yes, exactly, and it helps them to learn how to take ownership of the company and the business, and operate it as their own, because if no one takes ownership, then you have a group of employees that really don’t have the same passion and care for the company as you do.
David Brower: Absolutely.
Jamal Maxsam: You have to have that sense of ownership and instill that in your team.
David Brower: One of the other things that people have a lot of trouble with, in fact my wife and I talk about this from time to time because she does not embrace change in any way, shape or form, and I embrace change like I’m having a cup of coffee. I just, I love to reinvent myself. I love to keep my eyes out on different ways to change the way I look at things, the way I run my business, all those kinds of things, and it seems to me that if you’re going to be successful in this economy that we’re in, some level you either have to embrace change or surround yourself with people that can help you embrace that.
Jamal Maxsam: Exactly, because the only thing that … Really nothing stands still. Either you’re changing and adapting or you’re declining. Those who don’t embrace change are really declining and don’t know it. I’ve actually ran into that scenario as a school leader where I found I walked into a situation leading a school that was stuck in the past, the glory days. It would never be as good as this again. Five years ago we were at our heyday, and would never be that good. We can’t do anything different than what we did five years ago. Unfortunately, they were on a decline because of it. You have to always be open to new ideas, fresh perspective, fresh ways of doing things to even stay relevant.
David Brower: Absolutely.
Jamal Maxsam: You have to change. That’s really the only way to be successful.
David Brower: What you believe is going to manifest itself. Perception is reality, and if you believe that the heyday was five years ago, guess what? The heyday was five years ago.
Jamal Maxsam: Exactly. People say perception is reality, and I put a new twist on that. I say that people’s perception is their piece of reality-
David Brower: Oh, I like that.
Jamal Maxsam: -and it’ll be the piece that they experience-
David Brower: I like that.
Jamal Maxsam: -because reality, [facts 00:11:35] in reality don’t change. The fact of the matter is, your business is at a certain place, that’s reality, but how you see it affects your ability to adapt, adjust and interact with reality.
David Brower: Well-said. Well-said. Adapt, adjust, and interact, those are three … That could be the title of your next book.
Jamal Maxsam: Yeah. I’m going to write that down and work on it.
David Brower: So one of the things that you talk about when you’re sharing people ideas about your book, you say, “Don’t spend your life wishing and hoping for a better future,” but you help them create that and live that, so if I’m a person that in my heart of hearts I know that I’m wishing and hoping for a better future, how can you help me create that and live that now?
Jamal Maxsam: Well, what we would do is I’ll sit down and just really talk to you to find out what that is for your future, and really get you to define it, not in superficial terms like, “Oh, I just want to be happy.” I mean, where do you see yourself living? What income level do you see yourself at? Then, we’ll compare that to your present. Then I’ll ask [inaudible 00:12:50] and figure out, “Okay, what are my next steps to do some work towards this dream [inaudible 00:12:56]?” For example, a person who really dreams to live on the beach somewhere, and they don’t, like say if they live here in Ohio but their dream is to live in Florida, I would ask them, “What are you doing? Are you [searching 00:13:10] out good places to live in? Are you getting research on the cost of living, looking at potential career opportunities? Are you visiting there? [inaudible 00:13:18] you would even like to live there, not just during holidays?”
So I really help them take the [six 00:13:26] strategic steps to move in the direction of their dreams, because a lot of times, people make … Some people, I think I found certain categories of people, some people have dreams and never do anything with them. Some people have dreams and write them down, but never really take strategic actions. Then, there are others who have the dream and write it down, and they take strategic action. There’s a lot of people create vision boards, and things like that.
David Brower: Yeah. I’m wondering during the process, when you help them figure out a strategic plan to go after their dream, you discuss ways to help them live their dream, have you ever found somebody that in the course of that process actually changed their dream?
Jamal Maxsam: I have [people 00:14:10] who haven’t clearly defined their dream, because as we begin to talk, they may have thought it was one thing, but then they discovered it was another. To some people, when they really-
David Brower: That’s what I was wondering, yeah.
Jamal Maxsam: -when they really [inaudible 00:14:23] it down, it may be something different than what they thought. Because [inaudible 00:14:28] certain people set goals based on cultural norms or based on things like, “Well, my goal is just to get this promotion.” Okay. Why? Is it just because you want more money or is it that … You know what I’m saying?
David Brower: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Jamal Maxsam: Most people find, “Okay. What I thought was my goal really isn’t my goal. Something else is my goal,” and what they thought was their goal was actually means to get to where they were trying to get to.
David Brower: There you go. There you go. So do you counsel people long distance? Do they have to live in Ohio? I know you’re all over the internet with social media, but how do people reach out to you to have a conversation?
Jamal Maxsam: Yeah. [inaudible 00:15:10], you said social media, but I have a lot of [inaudible 00:15:15] all over. I use technology like Skype, Zoom and other [inaudible 00:15:20] where we can have face-to-face meetings. I’m in the process of setting up a webinar [platform 00:15:25] [inaudible 00:15:26] to really help a person because right now, everything is so easy. It’s easy to be international and be [inaudible 00:15:34]. So I try to utilize those methods to help them.
David Brower: Good for you. Good for you. So you are pursuing purpose with passion. I see that on your email signature, so every time you write an email, that’s a reminder of what you’re doing, right?
Jamal Maxsam: Absolutely. That’s, then, my mantra for … since the time I was 19 years old, actually 18. I believe you not only have to go after certain [inaudible 00:16:04], but you have to do it with passion because nothing comes to a path of … You have to be aggressive and passionate to go after what you want.
David Brower: Absolutely.
Jamal Maxsam: That’s when your [crosstalk 00:16:17] fall into place.
David Brower: That makes a lot of sense. The book is Skip The Rat Race. Can people get that on Amazon and other places?
Jamal Maxsam: Yes. It will be available in July. It will be available through my website, but also iTunes and Amazon, and other places digitally, and as well as through my publisher on [inaudible 00:16:36] Books.
David Brower: Very good. You can reach out to Jamal on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. You can email him, find all those connection points at his website, JamalMaxsam.org. That’s J-A-M-A-L, Jamal, M-A-X-S-A-M. JamalMaxsam.org, and again the book is Skip The Race. Hey, it’s been a real pleasure talking to you, Jamal. Continue success with your book, your passion and your student.
Jamal Maxsam: All right. Thank you, David. I appreciate it.
David Brower: I really enjoyed it. Thank you. You’ve been listening to your 20-minute podcast with David Brower, and our special guest, Jamal Maxsam. Be sure to follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Your20MinutePodcast.