page title icon The Morning Upgrade Podcast Featuring Paul Matthews

Welcome to episode #22 of The Morning Upgrade Podcast. Today I speak with Paul Matthews, creator of People Alchemy. Paul is an engineer, he’s interested in problem solving and he has also written several books about how to be successful at work.

Top Talking Points

  • Why it’s important to be passionate about your work.
  • Instead of keeping a tight schedule, be more experimental in hopes to find what works for you.
  • No matter what your business is, marketing is important to its success.

Resources & Links

Share Link for this episode

Connect with Paul paul-matthews.com or on Linkedin.

Find The Books Mentioned on Kindle or Audible

Jonathan Livinginston Seagull by Richard Bach

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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 from the morning upgrade podcast. Today I’m excited to be speaking with Paul Matthews. Hey Paul.

Paul Matthews:

Oh, hi. How are you doing?

Ryan Cote:

Doing great. So why don’t we start out by you introducing to everyone what you do and what you enjoy doing, what your interests are?

Paul Matthews:

What do I do from a work perspective? I’ve got my own company. So there’s a couple of areas to that. One is I’ve written books in the learning and development space and I speak at conferences around the world. Well, I used to before COVID now it’s kind of virtual. And then alongside, I’ve got a software company which specializes in niche learning software that goes into typically middle and larger organizations. So that keeps me busy. Things I’m interested in. Oh, I don’t know. I love working on the software and designing that. I guess I’m an engineer at heart. So I like solving problems that mean something to somebody. So not just a problem like Sudoku, but a problem that actually is gonna make a difference to somebody

Ryan Cote:

I’m similar in my business. Valentine is my interest too. So work entrepreneurship, it’s sort of a hobby too, I suppose. So I resonate with your answer. How’d you get into learning and development?

Paul Matthews:

I couldn’t get a real job. I had to do something, so it was like many things in life. It was just an accident, ended up doing some training, which wasn’t where I was trying to be, but it just happened as a result of circumstances and rather enjoyed that. But that was a long time ago now, 20 plus years ago. And looking back on what I was doing, it was rubbish, but Hey, I enjoyed it at the time and that was how things were done back then. But what I started to do was my background in engineering, I started looking at what was going on in the learning and development sphere with an engineer’s set of glasses on and realized there were a lot of things that just didn’t work very well. And if that number of things doesn’t work very well when you’re designing things like bridges and tractors and cars, you tend to kill people. So I thought, well, why are L and D getting away with such a high failure rate for the kind of things they’re doing? So that was how I got into it and started thinking about it. I think a bit differently to many people who had been in that sector for a long time.

Ryan Cote:

Is it a very fulfilling profession for you? I’m assuming helping people and…

Paul Matthews:

Absolutely enjoy what I’m doing hugely. And I wouldn’t have written three books otherwise. And I think cause writing a book is a big thing to do. There’s one book I reread every year, which might give you an idea is Jonathan Levi and Seago by Richard Bark. And that’s all really about learning and teaching. And that little booklet resonates with me hugely. And so every year I just go back and read it again and sort of rekindling the ideas that are in there. I highly recommend it.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I haven’t heard of that book. So we’ll link that up in the show notes and I’ll definitely take a look. I just ordered 12 books off of Amazon. So I’m a huge reader I read every day. Usually have multiple books going plus audible, maybe too much, I guess in hearing me say that, but yeah, I’m a huge reader myself. So morning upgrade is a personal development podcast as you know. We talk about entrepreneurship, morning routines habits, and more than that, but that’s the gist of it. And so I was wondering what your morning routine looks like if you can share that with us.

Paul Matthews:

<Laugh> I’m not sure I’ve really got one. I exercise every morning, have some breakfast, whatever. So I guess not a lot different to many people, so, no, I don’t know.

Ryan Cote:

Do you read or meditate or anything along those lines?

Paul Matthews:

I do meditate, but typically later in the day, not in the morning.

Ryan Cote:

How long do you meditate for, just curious?

Paul Matthews:

Oh, usually half an hour to 45 minutes.

Ryan Cote:

So I’ve got a morning routine that’s been an hour-long that it’s a lot of different things. Journaling, reading exercise, and just like a 10-minute little burst of different things. And the meditation part is 10 minutes, but I’ve read a lot of recommendations that you should meditate for 20 to 45 minutes. I’ve never tried meditating for 30 to 45 minutes. I should try it cause I feel like you would get a lot deeper. So you’re gonna prompt me to try that out. Do you follow any type of specific meditation? Is it just focusing on your breath or is it a specific… I know some recommend like affirmations or saying things to yourself. What’s it called? Not mantra…

Paul Matthews:

Not really. I’ve done some studies in some of those areas. So it’s a mixture of all sorts of things that works for me. I don’t follow any particular discipline or anything like that. And sometimes it’s literally just quiet time with an empty mind rather than actually sort of full-blown meditation if you wanna put it that way. So I’m not a great one for routines and doing something the same every day. I’d rather do things differently and experiment, see what works.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. Make sense. Do you have anything that you do at night to set yourself up for the next day?

Paul Matthews:

Oh, I put my head on my pillow, usually <laugh>

Ryan Cote:

Sleep. That’s an important one. You’ve run your business for a while. And you said you speak, you write, you’ve got your software business. I would imagine you probably have some habits, personal development habits, or maybe related to personal development that has helped you along the way, just accomplished so much. Is there anything that comes to mind that you can share with us, like habits that you have?

Paul Matthews:

I don’t know, people say I’ve got a positive outlook on life. Maybe I have, I don’t know. I don’t notice it because it’s who I am. So I suppose that’s your outlook on life, I guess is a habit as much anything else. But no, other than that, I wouldn’t say, well, we’re all full of habits. I mean, most of our life as we go through every day is habitual rather than decided behavior. There’s very little of what we do at a percentage level that’s not habitual. But no, I wouldn’t say there are any particular ones. And I think people need to figure out what works for them. I mean, that’s what I mean by experimenting is try different things, but also try them long enough to figure out, to get good enough at them to see if they’re gonna work. It’s no good just trying something once and saying, well, that didn’t work.

Ryan Cote:

I think the one thing you did mention though, I think it is important to stress that being positive and optimistic. I think mindset is a huge thing. A lot of people argue that it’s the biggest thing because you know, as you run through your business or just life in general, you run into a lot of just obstacles just naturally. And so getting through those takes a certain mindset. So I think that’s something definitely to pull out is the positivity and optimism you said you have. How do you handle that towards let’s talk about struggles in your business? Like the hardest thing you’ve ever, I mean, not ever, but the hardest thing about your business. How have you gotten through that? What have you done?

Paul Matthews:

Oh, like any business that’s been through ups and downs and sometimes that’s people involved with the business for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s revenue and cash flow and stuff like that. You know, we’re in good shape now, which is great, but I think there’s always the need to have a perspective on it. I think maybe that’s the positive outlook and just say, well, this might look like s*** from one angle, but it’s okay from other angles. So in some way, I dunno whether you’ve seen that film, The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise, and one of the Samurai keeps looking at the blossoms on the cherry tree, wondering which blossom is perfect. The blossom is just about to open, the one that’s already open or the one that’s been beautiful and is now passing on. And then towards the end of the film, he has a realization that every blossom is perfect all the time, regardless of what stage it’s at. And I think that’s about looking at everything and just saying, it’s all perfect. I might not see that perfection from my perspective, but if you take a step back then everything is always perfect. So if you kind of have that view on it, then I think things will work out. As I said, maybe that’s the positive attitude.

Ryan Cote:

It sounds like you’re doing something that you love and that you’re good at. Do you think it helps to have a passion for your profession? I mean, I think obviously the answer is yes, but how do you find that passion in what you do?

Paul Matthews:

Well, I think the first place is to find it in what you are doing, whatever that is in the moment. And that might not be where you ultimately end up, but at least you can be passionate where you are. It’s unlikely you’re gonna move on to something else where you’re gonna be passionate. Cause you’ll get stuck where you are. So whatever you’re doing, do it as well as you can and get involved and passionate about it. And then you’ll notice other things around you that you could also get passionate about. A lot of people get stuck, I think, they don’t do that and they think, well, I don’t like where I am. But of course, they then don’t see what else is around them that they could like,

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. If ultimately change is required, sometimes they don’t make the change that’s necessary to get into a better place cuz they’re just stuck or they can’t see past their immediate situation. So I don’t know if you have any tips that come to mind, but across writing and speaking and running your software business, do you have any tips you can share with other entrepreneurs for running a successful business, whether it’s across speaking general business or writing?

Paul Matthews:

Keep your accounts up to date every week, <laugh> keep an eye. And I think another thing is that you’ve gotta realize that kind of every business is a marketing business that happens to have a product or service. So it’s really important to focus on marketing. Cause unless that’s right, you don’t make sales. And if you’re not making sales, you’re not making revenue. And if you’re not making revenue, you’re running a charity with maybe what you wanna do, but you know, it doesn’t necessarily put food on the table. There’s that side of it. But otherwise, it’s gonna be vastly different depending on whether the sort of business you’re in, whether you got products, whether it’s a service, whether it’s unusual, whether you are out there competing with other people with something similar, whether you’ve got something completely different that no one’s ever done before.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. Definitely depends on the situation of the business. What have you learned from running your business about yourself?

Paul Matthews:

That I bounce. If you fall over you bounce. And of course, a lot of people hit the bottom cause I’ve had a couple of tough times, like many in business. Nothing wrong with that, it just happens. But when you do have a tough time and then you come out the other end, you do realize you bounce. And that makes it a lot easier to look over the edge and at a later time. And you might not fall later, but you are a lot less scared of falling. And that makes a big difference. You’re not quite so desperate about what’s going on. Again, back to positive view of how things can turn out even if they look bleak at a certain point in time.

Ryan Cote:

So you’re saying that you develop pretty much like a callous towards hard things, like where you get through something and it stinks at the time, then you get through it. And then when the next thing hard comes about, you’ve already been through something hard and so you have a little bit of a callous towards it where you’re a little more equipped to handle it, both just getting through it and the mindset as well. Would you agree with that?

Paul Matthews:

Well, yeah. I mean, if you’re in somewhere bad, keep moving. You know, if you stop and sort of cogitate and think about all the bad stuff that’s around you, basically don’t stop, keep moving, and eventually, you’ll come out the other side.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I agree with that. Naturally, I don’t know if it’s just the way I’m built, but I naturally go up and down where I’ve got a lot of motivation and then I don’t and then I do then I don’t. And I find that when I don’t like, yeah, I’ll give myself a little bit of time to just relax, and maybe it’s burnout. I’m not sure. But I also find that taking action gets me through either time of low motivation or times where I’m going through some difficult just action I think just creates, pulls you outta that slump.

Paul Matthews:

I think one of the things that some people get tangled up with is there’s a lot of things around about you must set goals. And we do set goals even if we just go to the supermarket, we’re setting a goal to go and do that. But I think at a higher level goals can actually be quite a bad trap cuz you said, oh, I must achieve this by this date and then you don’t and then you beat yourself up for it. And then there’s a sense of unworthiness or inability and there’s that kind of downward spiral. So I think you’ve gotta be focused more on a direction of travel. That is a great way to go and then enjoy the journey rather than getting tangled up and focused on a large specific goal at the end of it that if I don’t get that my life is over type of thing. So yes, by all means, set micro-goals along that journey. And that can get you to that action you just mentioned. I think sometimes the biggest stuff that people set out to do can actually be quite destructive in some ways.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. Cuz it can be demoralizing if you’re setting these gigantic goals that you’re not hitting, it could be demoralizing.

Paul Matthews:

It’s like, I can’t be happy until I get this or that. Or if I don’t hit my goals, I won’t be happy. And then it’s kind of, well, that’s just a self-reinforcing downward spiral, which is not terribly helpful.

Ryan Cote:

Since you said you’re nationally optimistic. I was speaking to a previous guest about happiness and we were talking about how happiness is a choice where you have to choose to be happy. You can’t rely on external things to give you happiness, you have to choose to be happy. And then from there, it happens. Do you believe in that or do you have a different view of it?

Paul Matthews:

Well, we live in the feeling of our thinking. So it’s how you are thinking that actually is controlling how you feel, not how something outside of you is going on. It’s that old Shakespeare quote, nothing is good or bad except thinking makes it so. If you see something and you decide it’s bad, then you decide it’s bad. But that thing out there that you’re looking at is not intrinsically good or bad in and of itself. It’s just your view of it. So the way you think about things that are happening around you affects how you’re gonna feel about life in general. So as I said, you live in the experience of your thinking. So how you think matters and the thoughts that you engage with matter. So engage with the good ones and let the bad ones or the ones that don’t feel so good just let them float past you and disappear cause they will. That’s what thoughts do, they arise, and then they leave unless you engage with them and hold them close. So the only ones you wanna hold close are the thoughts that actually feel good.

Ryan Cote:

Absolutely. I a hundred percent agree with all that. That’s actually a good segue into my last question for you, Paul and I really enjoyed this conversation. First of all, you gave me a book to read and a new movie to watch. So I appreciate that. But my last question for you and then I’d like you to tell everyone how they can learn more about you if they wanna connect with you. Have you ever thought about what the perfect day looks like for you? And if yes, what does that look like?

Paul Matthews:

My perfect day is tomorrow.

Ryan Cote:

Oh, that’s a good answer. <Laugh> I like that. It’s a good note to end on. So why don’t you tell everyone how they can learn about you and if they wanna connect with you?

Paul Matthews:

Well, there’s a couple of sites. I’ve got my personal one with the speaking and the books is at paul-matthews.com and the software sites at peoplealchemy.com. And I’m on LinkedIn if anybody wants to link up, that’s fine too. Always happy to have a chat.

Ryan Cote:

So we’ll include those three links on your show notes page. I really enjoyed this conversation, Paul, thanks to everyone for listening, and talk to you soon.

Paul Matthews:

Okay. Thanks very much.

Announcer:

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

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