Transcript: Thanks, Allan. This is David Brower with Your 20 Minute Podcast. Our special guest today is Jeff Hotchkiss from Santa Cruz, California. He’s got an MBA. He’s a business development consultant, personal coach, senior peer counselor, activity organizer, handyman, and author of Putting Wisdom to Work: Practical Mindfulness for Maximal Living. He’s a wisdom warrior, possibility advocate, and rebel without a cause. How do you get that all on one business card, man? That’s pretty cool.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Holy smokes. That sounds pretty good. All right. You read that really nicely. Hey, you’re hired. I should have recorded that myself.
David Brower: I know. I’ll send it to you. Check’s in the mail. All right.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Okay, beautiful. Thank you, David.
David Brower: Hey, so mindfulness is like the buzzword, it seems to me. It’s going around everywhere, mindfulness for eating, mindfulness for prayer, mindfulness for stuff that you’re doing. How did that part of your 20,000 pieces of job description come together for you?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah, great. It fell together for me in the process of writing this book that I put together, that Putting Wisdom to Work book. That’s a longer story than we really have time for. You’ll have to get the book and take a look at it, but in the process of … Make a long story short, I was unemployed. I was looking, just couldn’t figure things out and decided I had a little bit of time, let’s write a book, and dug into just everything I’ve always been fascinated with, the … all the speakers, the Anthony Robbins, the Deepak Chopra. I was the guy that went to all of those workshops and seminars and finally felt like I had a … just didn’t quite have it quite figured out, needed to figure it out for myself, had a lot of bits and pieces. Going through all those bits and pieces, the word mindfulness just becomes centered into … It’s just such a catch-all for the process of being self-aware and aware of others.
David Brower: You bet.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah, my journey has been exciting. I get a lot of value out of looking into this magical energy we call mindfulness.
David Brower: What a blessing to be able to share time with all those wonderful people. I’m assuming you’re a great sponge, and you take what makes sense to you and then bring it back and assimilate it in a way that’s going to help your life and people around you.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Sure, yeah, yeah. We’re all doing the same thing. I just happened to have a little bit of time on my hands to write it down. I mean I was just doing my own thing, David, just trying to figure out my own questions on the meaning of life, and purpose, and all of those things. I took the time to write it down. I’m glad I did because I’m now, potentially, in the position to help some other people on that journey, which is just really exciting.
David Brower: I mean the pay-it-forward piece has got to be thrilling for you.
Jeff Hotchkiss: It is. It is. It definitely pulls you through those long nights, and those tough edits, and all of that work. Making money is one thing that’s necessary. Filling your time and being productive is one thing that’s necessary, but when it boils down to it, we’re here to help other people if we can.
David Brower: Absolutely. How long has your book been out?
Jeff Hotchkiss: It’s been just about a year, just a little more than a year. I self-published it. Yeah, so shifting gears, talking about personal identity, and mindfulness, and all those things, putting the book together, I was really, really focused on that. Then, this last year, I’ve been kind of drifting a little bit trying to figure out what it means to market the book. Writing the book was one thing, so we’re kind of back to square one, reinventing ourselves as we do every single day, but yeah. No, this book’s been out, and it’s selling pretty good and leading to some new opportunities.
David Brower: Nice.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Something you could find on Amazon or on my website, and I highly recommend it because, boy, I stuck with it until it was done. You know?
David Brower: Yeah.
Jeff Hotchkiss: I just wasn’t going to put it out until I could really put my name on it, and hired a lot of help.
David Brower: Good for you.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah. Thank you.
David Brower: Do you have a lot of people around you to help mirror the book, and help you edit, and those kinds of things when you self-publish?
Jeff Hotchkiss: You have to, I think.
David Brower: Right?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah, yeah. I got lucky. I had a friend who was a professional copy writer who was just … She was having a baby, so she was at home on maternity leave. I really couldn’t finish it myself, David. I had 130,000 words on a rough manuscript, and she helped me bring it down to 33,000 words, 150 pages.
David Brower: Wow.
Jeff Hotchkiss: We cut two-thirds of it.
David Brower: Yeah.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah.
David Brower: It’s available on Kindle and paperback. It’s Putting Wisdom to Work: Practical Mindfulness for Maximal Living. 168 pages, so that’s … That not only makes it an interesting and great-sized book, but I would think people would want to use it kind of a handbook too as a reference resource. You think?
Jeff Hotchkiss: I’m sure of it. I intentionally set out to create some new material here, to just not rehash the stuff that I had learned or rehashed what was available out there. Part of what that was there’s five activities in the book, and they’re all original activities that are designed to help you embody that material and become … bring it from an idea into a state of knowing this that gives you guidance and comfort.
David Brower: Well, there’s so many things going on in everybody’s world today. I mean we’re bombarded with advertising. We’re all about immediate gratification. The politics of the world are challenging for many of us. To be able to find time to pay attention to ourselves becomes harder and harder and, equally, it’s one of the most important things we have to do. Does this book help people slow down a little bit?
Jeff Hotchkiss: I would guarantee that, you betcha, because you’re going to find from a … I’ve covered that exact question from a lot of different angles, why to do it and how to do it. Pretty much 100% of the people I’ve encountered that have made time to become a little more mindful of their priorities and employ some of these skills … That’s all they are. It’s all learnable. To employ some of those skills towards embodying some of your values and priorities, it just feels good, and it becomes an easy, happy habit.
David Brower: It’s so hard for us, sometimes, to find our authentic selves and even know how to scratch the surface of that, and so being able to get into your book where you can help people shape their beliefs, and let go of resistance, and try to manage your ego a little bit, really kind of dig deep on, “All right, who am I? I mean how do I get to where I’m supposed to be?”
Jeff Hotchkiss: Well, think about it, David. We’re all animals, really, in a way. We’re all copycats. That’s how we learn. We copy each other. The world that we are born into, the world that we live in is, like you said, it’s a media-driven world, so we’ve been presented with a lot of imagery from day one of how somebody else thinks life should be, some marketer, or some teacher, or some employer, or whatever it may be. If you’re super lucky, maybe some of that is authentic and part of your DNA, but the odds are they had an ax to grind, they had an agenda, and they wanted to sell you something, or they wanted you to do something that, when you step back from all that just a little bit and say … You start asking questions. “What is the purpose of my life, and what is meaning, and what should I be doing with my time? What is the highest and best use of my time?” You’re going to get some of your answers.
David Brower: There you go.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Then you could start taking action on those and, man, it does feel good, I got to tell you.
David Brower: I was reading through some of your reviews on Amazon. There are quite a few folks, so you ought to check to book out on amazon.com for sure. One of the reviews from just, gosh, couple of week ago, this lady says, “There are so many great aha moments in this book. It hit home with a simple yet deep step-by-step organized path that I could actually follow.” That speaks volumes about the approach to your book and how easy it is for people to go, “Oh, I can do this.”
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah, good. That makes me feel great, yeah.
David Brower: You know?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah. I mean it is easy stuff. The word I really reference all the time is in the subheading is practical. It’s a practical … It’s not a lofty thing. The word wisdom kind of scares people away, I think. They think it’s some guy in a cave or something. This is just everyday stuff, man.
David Brower: That’s what we’re looking for. It’s so much more fun, I think, if people will give themself a chance. It’s so much more fun to explore yourself in a guided way than rather somebody going, “All right. Why don’t you try this? No, you’d be better doing that. Now how about you try that?” Just really finding a resource like your book where they can spend some time at their own leisure, really, and pay attention to the steps that you share in there, the ideas that you share, the aha moments, which we all love. All of a sudden, I would think, after spending not too much time with it, they’re going to want to spend more and more time with it. Have you found that out with people that talk about your book?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Sure, yeah. No, I end up connecting with people, and we have long-term connections because we’re all looking for the same types of things. I feel like I’ve got a huge library here of aha moments from other great authors, so it’s just part of the continuum that … Yeah, once you start digging in, you start to have success. You start to feel better. You feel calmer. You feel more empowered. That’s the key word right there is to feel empowered. Part of my goal, as a writer, is to take the reader down a path to a point where they can make their own connections, and they have those aha moments. I’m not giving them aha moments. They’re making connections with what they’ve already known. That’s the journey we’re all on.
David Brower: I mean I think that’s a great definition of an aha moment. It’s something we’ve already known. We don’t know that we know it, but yet something triggers that to come out, and we go, “Aha,” like, “I already knew that. I just didn’t know I knew that.” Right?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Exactly, man, exactly. Yeah. I had a whole string of them putting the book together and so, yeah, that’s it. We are programmed at our core to be happy, to be joyful, to be peaceful, to be empowered, to be creative, to have a really good-quality, happy life. It’s just not something that the media landscape necessarily supports. You know?
David Brower: Right, right.
Jeff Hotchkiss: You have to take a personal amount of responsibility to have the life that you want.
David Brower: Absolutely, yeah.
Jeff Hotchkiss: That’s it.
David Brower: There’s no free lunch. It’s not as complicated as we try to make it, I think. I’m really good at overthinking stuff, and so sometimes I catch myself going, “Well, slow down a little bit.” Try to embrace that, and if you overthink it too much, all of a sudden, you kick it to the curb, and you missed a wonderful opportunity. You know?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things I really dig into is this … just the whole human nature, the thing that we call human nature. Nobody knows exactly why we are the way we are, but one of the things is, like you say, overthinking things. I think that we’re problem solvers. It’s one of the ways that we’ve gotten as far as we’ve gotten as a society. We are really great problem solvers, but in the absence of problems, we often, without awareness, without mindfulness, will start creating problems for ourselves, overthinking things, over-analyzing things, Mindfulness kind of just gives you a little bit of permission to stop, and pause, and step back, take credit.
The two words that I end up looking at a lot are striving and savoring. We’re really trained to strive, to solve problems, to do things, but it takes a little practice to step back, and savor, and relax, and appreciate what you’ve done and what others have done, and recharge those batteries. I talk about it a lot. I talk about the grid, the power grid, where you need to feed energy into the grid and so it’s there when you need it to take it out.
David Brower: Love that. I love the savory part of that because I honestly believe you’re right, of course, that … I mean we’re all going so fast and so hard, and we’re striving, and we’re striving, and we’re problem solving, and we’re problem solving. When do we stop and catch our breath and go, “Damn, that was pretty good”?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Well, I’ve heard some crazy stuff lately coming out of, well, all over the world, for that matter, that people are just not even taking their vacations. They’re leaving unused vacation days all over the place.
David Brower: Oh, my God.
Jeff Hotchkiss: For different reasons, but basically, they don’t want to fall behind. They don’t want to lose their status, whatever it is. It’s a really scary trend.
David Brower: Wow, that is totally scary. Wow. I, on the other hand, plan a two-week long motorcycle trip every year, so …
Jeff Hotchkiss: Ooh, doggie. Well, that sounds great. That’s on my to-do list. That’s definitely something I would like to do.
David Brower: Yeah. I’m trying to ride in all lower 48, and I just have 17 to go, so I’m going to try to wrap those up this fall, so it is my therapy.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Well, when you get to California, you better look me up.
David Brower: You got a deal.
Jeff Hotchkiss: You look me up when you’re … I’ll pull my Shadow out and charge the battery, and we’ll go for a little ride.
David Brower: You got a deal. You got a deal.
Jeff Hotchkiss: All right.
David Brower: Some of the other things you’ve done … I mean this book, obviously, is something people need to pay attention to. Folks, you need to go to amazon.com. Check out the reviews. Check out the book. Buy the book. You’re also on Facebook at facebook.com/Personal.Policy.Institute. What do people find there?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Well, that is you got to have a Facebook page these days, so I do some events locally, I announce things like these podcasts. I’m trying to put up a little video blog, a little blog post. I’m still working out the Facebook strategy. The other central point of contact is my website, which is policypillars.com, kind of building on the Personal Policy Institute thing, which is a lot of free material up there. Pretty much all of the activities that are in the book are up for free on the website at policypillars.com.
David Brower: There’s lots and lots of information there, I mean, about the book, of course, coaching, and workshops, consulting, about you being a handyman, so you’re going to help that guy fix the hole in his sailboat on Saturday, I guess.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yep, yep. No. I just can’t sit here at the computer all day, so I’ve been blessed with a really nice set of skills around remodeling homes and fixing up people’s spaces.
David Brower: Wow.
Jeff Hotchkiss: It’s a great way to help people and get out there in the community, and so it’s a … Yeah. My website is a one-stop shop for everything Jeff.
David Brower: Absolutely, absolutely, so Personal Policy Institute, Cultivating Practical Mindfulness for Maximal Living. You go to policypillars.com, and that will get you to his website. You can buy the book there as well. It’s available on an eBook, PDF, a Kindle, paperback, all the different things. When are you going to do an audio book?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Great question. Yes.
David Brower: Great answer. That was awesome.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah. I don’t know.
David Brower: It’s on your mindfulness list.
Jeff Hotchkiss: It is on the to-do list, absolutely, absolutely. I’ve got a ton of great material at my fingertips here, and I’m just starting to lead some local meditation classes and mindfulness classes. I think an audiobook would be a great thing to do.
David Brower: Absolutely right, yeah.
Jeff Hotchkiss: To be determined. Thank you.
David Brower: Yeah, yeah. I started meditating again a few weeks ago, and so that’s the first thing that I do every morning now. Boy, it’s just such a wonderful way to start the day. I had forgotten about it for so long. I was talking to a trainer friend of mine, and she says, “Well, how’s that mindfulness thing working for you?” I’m going, “Oh, crap. I better go back and start that again.” The good things sometimes get off your radar when you least expect it. You know?
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah. Be okay with that and let it happen as it’s going to unfold. I found 20 minutes in the morning first thing, and I do mean first thing-
David Brower: Yeah, me too.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Yeah. It feels so dang good that it’s not hard. I don’t have to remember to do it. I really wake up looking forward to it.
David Brower: Yep. I totally do too. My wife’s going, “What are you doing? Oh, that’s right. You’re meditating. All right, got it. I’ll leave you alone,” so it’s cool.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Perfect, David.
David Brower: Yeah, it is cool.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Good.
David Brower: Policypillars.com, you can check out anything and everything you need to know. Of course, check out those reviews at amazon.com. Buy the book. Use the book. Live the book. Be one with the book.
Jeff Hotchkiss: You’re hired, David. Hey, it’s true what they say about your voice. I’m just calm just sitting here listening to you. You’re a great interviewer. I really appreciate you and your listeners, and I hope everybody gets a little bit of value out of this and continues to build their savoring muscles.
David Brower: There you go. I’m writing that one down, actually.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Cool, man.
David Brower: Hey, man. Thank you so much. Congratulations on your book and spreading your life around to touch other people. You’re modeling a wonderful thing, and that’s cool, so congratulations.
Jeff Hotchkiss: Thank you so much, David.
Allan Blackwell: Your 20 Minute Podcast with David Brower has been brought to you by Audible. You can listen to any of David’s podcasts anywhere podcasts can be found, including iHeartRadio, the Spotify mobile app, and at davidbrowervo.com/your20minutepodcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.
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