page title icon The Morning Upgrade Podcast Featuring Mike Pietrzak

Welcome to The Morning Upgrade Podcast, episode #19. Today I got to speak with Mike Pietrzak, a mindset and habit coach as well as the owner of So You Want to Write. He loves writing, and teaching other people how to write. He also enjoys hiking with his family and playing guitar.

Top Talking Points

  • The four key foundational habits everyone should adopt.
  • Practicing solitude to focus your mind.
  • Visualizing what you want to do with your life to help you achieve those goals.

Resources & Links

Share Link for this episode

Connect With Mike at mikepietrzik.com

Learn more about So You Want To Write?

Find The Books Mentioned on Kindle or Audible

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

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Thank you for joining me and listening to my conversation with Mike. Be sure to click on the image below to subscribe to the podcast. I love hearing feedback, so be sure to leave a review.

Podcast Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to the morning upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote. Where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan Cote:

Hey everyone. This is Ryan Cote with the morning upgrade podcast. And today I am very excited to be speaking with Mike Pietrzak. Hey Mike.

Mike Pietrzak:

Hey Ryan, how are you? Very excited to be here.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah, I’m excited to be talking with you. So let’s start off by you telling everyone what you do and what your interests are.

Mike Pietrzak:

Great. So I’m one of these lucky people that have what they call a portfolio career. So I have a bunch of hats I wear. I’m a writer. This is my calling. I also have an entrepreneurial streak. So I started a business called, so you want to write, which trains writers and I’m a coach. I deal with mindset and habits, helping people get to their best life. I also teach a couple of college courses, and I’m a dad and I’m a husband, so many hats going on these days.

Ryan Cote:

What made you get into coaching?

Mike Pietrzak:

You know what? I had been working with my own coaches, people that coached me for years, and with therapists as well. And I just loved the way that you could sit in the room with somebody and talk about things and they give you exercises and it leads to this amazingly improved life, well, over time when you put in the work. So I decided for whatever reason to try my hand at it, I thought, okay, I could do this. And you know, I found out that I had this skill for it, that I actually collected a lot of great tools over the years. So I started giving those to people and working with them. And I’ve been doing that since 2017.

Ryan Cote:

Excellent. What are your interests? What do you enjoy doing?

Mike Pietrzak:

Besides all of the stuff I’m doing for work, which is most of my life, I just love spending time with my daughter and my wife. We would go for hikes in the woods, by the river, have got some great trails here. I play some guitar. I love my computer games, always have. You know, I’m just a big kid at heart. And I love helping people, I was told at a young age that you’re destined for a life of service and I love that. And so I’ve been serving people ever since.

Ryan Cote:

In terms of your coaching, I like you mentioned mindset and habits. Obviously, this is a personal development podcast. So I definitely want to dive into those two things. Why don’t we start off by you talking about any habits that you think are worth sharing that everyone should try to incorporate into their daily routine?

Mike Pietrzak:

Yeah. Well, okay, great. So I always talk about foundational habits. You know, there are many, many habits you could adopt, but I think there are, for me, at least four key foundational habits that you can build on top of. And so the first one for me is mindfulness, which scares some people because it’s associated with meditation, which I do every morning for the last 20 years. But it just really means paying attention and training yourself to be more present, more aware of what’s going on because we often get stuck in the past, which can lead to depression. We get stuck in the future, which creates anxiety. And we miss our present life, which is the only life we have, right? So mindfulness is one of those keys that improves all areas of life. And you can work on that with meditation. There are other exercises. A second one, foundational habit for me is journaling, and I’m biased, I’m a writer. But I think there’s incredible value in writing every day, preferably with pen and paper, cause it activates a different region of your brain and journaling just helps you to process what’s going on in your life, organize your thoughts.

And the one great thing is if you write the same thing over and over and over, you can’t help but change it. If you’ve got a problem and you’re writing it out every day, you’re going to change it. The third habit for me is walking or in a larger sense, exercise. Walking is, you know, they say a writer’s best friend, it’s just a great way to kind of organize your thoughts and I mean, get out there without your phone, without listening to a podcast, just get out and walk. Even for 10 minutes a day, can really reset you and help your brain to provide solutions to problems. And just in a larger sense, exercise is great for your health. It’s going to provide you with more vitality and energy. The last habit that’s foundational for me is solitude. And this is really not valued much in our society, in the West area, usually, but I think it’s critical. And when you can take time away from the noise, you have a competitive advantage against a lot of people. You get to know yourself better and start to like yourself better. So meditation, journaling, walking, and solitude, those are the four main things for me.

Ryan Cote:

Solitude’s an interesting answer. So what does that look like for you? Are you literally no phone, no book just by yourself, just sitting and thinking.

Mike Pietrzak:

Yeah, pretty much you’ve got it. It looks like a lot of getting out into nature. We’re lucky where we live. There are all kinds of conservation areas and river trails and you know, it might be just being on the bike or it might be walking, driving alone is an amazing solitude practice. Sometimes with music, sometimes without, sometimes it’s just putting on the headphones if I can’t get out, headphones and music or just quiet.

Ryan Cote:

That’s interesting, with the being present, the mindfulness, sorry, I was drawing a blank on that word, but the mindfulness, that resonates with me because I am trying to make it a habit of being present and more just like recognizing moments where I’m grateful for what’s happening or even if it’s just like we moved and we live right by the school where my oldest daughter goes. And so I walk her in the morning and I pick her up at lunch and I’ve had a couple of moments catching myself in a good way where I was just like appreciating what was around me, like the trees and just like the scenery and stuff like that. So I’m trying to make a habit of that.

Mike Pietrzak:

That’s such an important part of life is to enjoy those little things around you. It’s great to have these successes make a bunch of money, get a promotion, do great things for the world, but there’s a lot of happiness right in front of our noses, which is just in seeing the clouds and enjoying the forest and noticing some pattern on a window. I’ll tell you when I was the most happiest in my life, or at least recently, I had this nine-to-five job and I’d get off the subway and had a 10-minute walk to work from there. And I remember it being like mid-February here in Canada, frigid cold minus 10 probably. And you’re freezing, but you get to just look around, it’s still, it’s quiet and it’s beautiful. And I’ve listened to a lot of great audiobooks at that time do a lot of mantras. But I was just so content with life and I think it was because of those 10 minutes walking to work every day, just being present and focused and nothing spinning in my mind.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I think that’s a huge takeaway for everyone listening, just to try to remember to stop and look around and see what you have and see what you’re doing and try not to get too absorbed into daily busy busyness.

Mike Pietrzak:

And you mentioned, just to jump in again, you mentioned gratitude. I think it’s almost another side of the coin on being present. Gratitude is just being thankful for what you have and people wonder, okay, how do I cultivate this? It’s simple. You just take 30 seconds in your morning to list all the things you’re thankful for. Whether you’re religious or not just say, thank you for what I have. I am thankful. I feel it. And really when you feel it, you can become more present in the moment which leads to happiness and contentment.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I had someone asked me the other day if they could just do one thing as part of the morning routine, what would they do? But I recommend, and I say gratitude because it’s something that I a hundred percent agree.

Mike Pietrzak:

I love how Tony Robbins says that when you’re, and this is so true when you’re feeling gratitude, it’s impossible to feel anxiety, fear, negativity, any of those negative emotions because gratitude will fill up the space in your mind and your heart. And there’s no more room for the negative stuff. So if you can spend more time in gratitude, you spend less time on the other negative stuff.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. A hundred percent agree. So let’s talk about your morning routine, Mike, what does that look like?

Mike Pietrzak:

So I want to preface this by saying I was never a morning person until recently. I was someone who in my twenties would take any opportunity to sleep until noon or later, even. But I guess, in my thirties, I started to really see the value in getting up before noon. And by the way, another caveat, I’m a dad now I know your dad too and you realize what it’s like to have small children. That can really mess up your morning routine. No problem. I roll with it, but I try to squeeze in as many of these processes as I can, or these practices. So for me, it starts with the number one thing, I’m drinking a half a lemon juice. And the reason for that is, overnight your liver is kind of processing toxins and the garbage in your body, lemon juice will help you get that out and become more alkaline. So that’s an easy thing you can do. Then I do some morning reps, which is, as little as 10 pushups or 10 air squats, that’ll get your body going, get certain chemicals in your brain flowing to wake you up. And I always, always do 10 minutes of meditation. 

This is such an important foundational skill. It sets you up for the rest of the day, brings you peace, brings you focus, brings you clarity. You’re better with relationships. You’re better with your business. And I noticed when I don’t do it for too many days in a row, I suffer. So I’ve made this a mandatory one. Again, this is like a buffet I choose from every day. I don’t always get through everything. You know, Tony Robbins has a priming exercise. You can Google that for anyone listening who wants to know what that is. It takes 30 seconds. And then I move into my gratitude practice. You know, talking about what I’m thankful for. I visualize the life I want, whether that’s becoming the top coach in my niche or building the top writer training company, or the house that we’re going to buy next. And I recently added Bulletproof coffee to my routine, which is MCT oil and grass-fed butter and coffee. It’s a major shot of energy and focus, which means I can even skip breakfast sometimes and take advantage of intermittent fasting. And usually, I drink that while I’m journaling and all this takes me maybe 30 minutes, you know. Then I write for a couple of hours in the morning and then I exercise and then I shower around lunch and it’s into the more managerial tasks.

Ryan Cote:

There’s a lot of overlap with what I do. The lemon water I do as well. I don’t visualize it. That’s interesting. I should try that.

Mike Pietrzak:

I added that recently because I keep hearing from many personal development greats that this is, you know, in some ways the most important habit, because when you can clearly see your destination or your goal, it’s much easier to get there. And so this is as easy as like, just picturing, what am I doing in one year from now or five years from now, what am I doing today? If I can visualize what I’m doing with my day, then you can recruit your subconscious to start working on that and make it a reality. Cause your brain hates a conflict, right? So if you can visualize the life you want and it’s in conflict with where you are now, your brain is going to work hard to resolve that conflict.

Ryan Cote:

I guess the closest I get to that is I’ve got this goal sheet that I read in the morning. It’s my affirmations. It’s the things that I’m proud of. And it’s things I want to achieve. Not just achieve but like relationships and stuff like that. And then I’ve got a dream board, which is the basic collection of images, the vision board, whatever we want to call it.

Mike Pietrzak:

That’s a form of visualization. Absolutely.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah, It just helps make it more real, I suppose. Let’s talk about, I like to take these conversations into an entrepreneurial route as well because that’s what I am, that’s what my interests are. So your business, your coaching business, what have you had the most success with in terms of growing your business?

Mike Pietrzak:

So as I was telling you before we started, I focus mainly on mindset because I think that’s where the biggest change and growth comes from. So it’s the 80 20 rule, 80% mindset for me and 20% habits, which is, you know, habits are also extremely important, but without the mindset, you’re not going to be able to make those habits solid, but I’ll give you two answers here. So what have I had most success with. High level, it’s building a community and do this in a human way. Building a community, it means really just talking to someone, a client like they’re a friend. I don’t call my writer clients, clients, I call them writers because we’re both writers, right? We’re peers. And if you can put people in a room and now it’s a virtual room and get them feeling like a part of something, that’s really powerful. Those people that feel like they’re connected to a larger enterprise, they’re going to buy something usually. And then I guess a more specific tool that I’ve had success with is email marketing. I love email marketing, the stats, the research shows that it’s the most successful marketing tool after word of mouth. And so I’ve consciously become, I think, quite good at email marketing. And that’s simply just getting people onto your email list and sending them useful content, which, has a PS that says, Hey, buy this thing, it’ll be helpful for you. But really starting with service and growing that email list.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. With email marketing, what’s key there is you know, it’s an asset that you own. If you build up your community on Facebook, well, that’s good. You don’t really, it’s you’re building on a foundation that.

Mike Pietrzak:

You’re right. I say this to people too. I don’t love Facebook and Twitter. I mean, we do it. I have a social media coordinator to do this for me, but I know that they could change their algorithm at any moment and I don’t get to speak to my audience anymore. So there’s a danger in relying solely on social media, which is why I’ve chosen email marketing as my focus.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. Super smart. So, Mike, I’ve got one more question for you then I’d like to wrap up with you, telling everyone how they can connect with you if they want to learn more about you and your coaching business. So I like to ask my guests their number one personal development tip, I know you deal a lot with mindset and habits, so go whatever direction you want, but if you can only give one person a development tip to follow what would that be?

Mike Pietrzak:

Yeah, that’s a good one. I mean, persona, development is a huge, massive pool. I mean, it’s like a $10 billion industry now. But for me, the number one thing I would suggest is a key piece of wisdom from the Stoics. It’s focused on what you can control and ignore the rest. This for me has been like a revolutionary approach to life. Focusing on what you can control means focusing on your thoughts, your words, your actions, your habits, things that are the only things that are really truly in your control. What other people think, your reputation, how much money you’re getting, how many sales you make, those are really outside of your control. Your control is in the domain of really it’s your mindset. And so if you put the bulk of your focus on your thoughts, actions, habits, that’s where you’re gonna see the most change in your life. You ignore what other people think.

Ryan Cote:

Great advice. Have you read the daily stoic by Ryan Holly?

Mike Pietrzak:

Yeah. Actually, I went through that process, I guess it was last year, along with the journal, I did the journaling as well. So it took me a few extra months to get it done, but that was super helpful. And they actually have a daily email as well to go along with that, that I subscribed to for a couple of years and just brilliant, brilliant wisdom. That was one of the only newsletters I was subscribing to for a while.

Ryan Cote:

That’s very helpful. I have to check that out. Well, thanks, Mike. I really enjoyed this. It was great talking with you. What’s the best website or the best way people can connect with you if they want to learn more?

Mike Pietrzak:

Well, thank you, Ryan. This was fun. And I’d love for people to come find me at, as you said at my website, which is mikepietrzak.com and the last name is spelled P I E T R Z A K. I also want to make an offer that if people want to do some coaching with me, I’ll do an hour with you for free. We can accomplish a lot in that time. So visit my website, go to the bottom of the page, and hit free consultation. And I’d love to chat with you.

Ryan Cote:

Awesome. Yeah. Thanks for making that offer. And we’ll link everything up in the show notes page. I appreciate it.

Mike Pietrzak:

Thanks, Ryan. Take care.

Announcer:

Thanks for listening to the morning upgrade podcast, please subscribe and review, and don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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