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Welcome to episode #104 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this week’s episode I spoke with Steve Cesari, a serial entrepreneur and business coach.

Top Talking Points

  • The five Fs for reaching fulfillment.
  • Why you might not be successful even if you work hard.
  • How to feed your energy and sense of fulfillment.

Resources & Links

Connect With Steve via email: steve@stevecesari.com. Or at stevecesari.com.

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

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Thank you for listening to this episode of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. If you enjoyed my conversation with Steve, be sure to subscribe to the podcast and please leave a review.

Episode Transcript

Announcer

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote, where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan 

Hey, Steve, welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast. How are you?

Steve  

Hey, Ryan, I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on your show. And it’s nice to be talking to a fellow northeasterner.

Ryan 

Hey, yeah, absolutely. We had a great conversation pre-recording. So I’m excited to see where the conversation takes us. So on that note, let’s start off and tell my audience of Morning Upgraders who you are and what you do for a living. I think give us a win that’s happening in your life right now.

Steve

Sure. I like to describe myself as a recovering entrepreneur; I was an entrepreneur for most of my life, and I figured that out. After I got fired from my first three jobs, I had to be an entrepreneur because nobody else would have me. So I love working in that world. And pretty much, I work from the premise that everything we experience in life prepares us for what we’re supposed to do next. So I’ve had a lot of success building businesses and helping strategically look at organizations and people. And now, what I do is take everything I’ve learned over the years working through 15 plus different business startups in different categories and work with mostly highly entrepreneurial individuals, not just to make money but to make a difference. And I work from the perspective of what I call the five F’s, faith, family, friends, finance, and fitness times focus equals fulfillment and really try to help impact and help the clients I work with to be the best and achieve the best at home, at work, and in the community.

Ryan 

And repeat that formula one more time, so my audience gets it.

Steve 

Sure. Faith plus family, plus friends plus finance plus fitness times focus equals your fulfillment in life. And again, I learned that through the process of starting my first business, where I was ranked by Inc Magazine as one of the fastest growing privately held businesses in the country. And then the following year, again, through some extenuating circumstances, we became one of the fastest shrinking companies in the United States. And, and what I learned was, Ryan, that the most important things in life are the things that money can’t buy your faith, your family, and your friends. So when I work with entrepreneurs now and don’t get me wrong, I like money, and I like to make money, and I like to help people make money. But that can’t be the sole focus; I really look for people that are going to have the impact and influence and create a foundation that is not just going to make money but make a difference. And leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it.

Ryan  

I want to hear about winning your life. But before I forget to ask, at that moment, you said of everything shrinking? What did you learn about yourself at that moment?

Steve 

I think you, you know, when things are going well, that’s not a true test of character. It’s when the ship is going down. And things aren’t going well that you really learn what you’re made of. And literally, I learned more about coming down the ladder of success, what you find is who your real friends are, there were so many people, you know that when the fame went away when the success went away, they stopped hanging out the phone, stop calling, and you literally find what is real and what is important. So, you know, to me, the whole basis, and the biggest thing I learned is gonna come out in my next book, just talking about, again, the most important things in life, my working title is, you know, get effed up the five steps to finding fulfillment in life. And I hope to be coming out with that in the next six months. So again, it’s just really helping people to learn through the process that I went through on how to make sure that they’re integrating every aspect of their life. And what I found is that so many people who are extremely successful and have built wealth usually leave a trail of broken relationships, either broken health or health is not good. So again, to me, it’s really staying focused on those five pieces of the pie, faith, family, friends, finance, and fitness. And so, I take that all into account as I’m helping people strategize on how to grow their business and how to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

Ryan 

I want to talk about fulfillment with you, but I want to go back to your win. What’s happened in your life right now that’s a win.

Steve  

Oh my, we talked a little bit about it at the pre-show. I’ve got four grown kids, three girls and a boy, and I’ve got seven grandbabies five and under. And number eight is on the way, and I’m just telling you, it’s another level and layer of love. We have one of them living over in London; we have one, as I told you, up in New Jersey, one in Baltimore, and my son and daughter-in-law down here. And literally, we just spent probably half of our time chasing them around, going to travel all those different In places, and this summer, I’ve rented a home in Chatham in Cape Cod. And everybody’s coming up there for two weeks in the summer. So just ecstatic about that.

Ryan  

That’s excellent. Yeah, we have a, my parents have 10. And I’ve got three, my, my one brother’s got four, and my brother is three. And they’re all very similar in age from, I’m going to probably get this wrong, but like for up to 12, and then everything in between. And when they get together, it’s so much fun watching them all play together. Not to mention, you virtually have to 

do zero parenting because they all just kind of entertain themselves and laugh and have fun. 

Steve

Yes, excellent. 

Ryan

Yeah, that’s awesome. Congratulations. 

Steve

Same to you. 

Ryan

So Steve, what are your mornings look like? How do you start your day?

Steve 

Well, I developed a program and was in business for about three and a half years with a New York Times bestselling author, Tommy Newberry, and we had an organization called the 1% Club. And Tommy developed a concept called your morning EMS or your early morning success ritual. And literally, I practice. Again, I change it based on what’s going on in my life. And I’ll read you kind of six of my affirmations that I read every morning. And then, before I go to bed, I take action daily to create the life I want; I feel good and look good. Food is fuel; movement is medicine; I have the energy to accomplish anything I choose. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I expand in abundance, success, and love every day. And I inspire those around me to do the same. That last one actually comes from a book I just finished reading called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks highly recommended if you haven’t read it; just talks about how to overcome and stay in your zone of genius. I talked about it in the book that I wrote called clarity as well. And then, in addition to that, I have visual pictures of why I want to stay healthy, why I want to have the energy, and a lot of that has to do with my wife of 42 years, my four kids, and my seven grandkids. And then, right now, I change up a little bit. But right now, I’m reading I’m doing what’s called the Proverbs challenge. I’m reading one chapter of Proverbs each day because it just coincides with there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, and there are 31 Days in May, so it works perfectly.

Ryan  

So some of the questions I want to ask you, I’m trying to figure out what direction I will take this in. First of all, I did read The Big Leap is an excellent book; I’ve got one of my affirmations from that book, which is I expanded abundance, abundance, success, and love every day as I inspire those around me to do the same. And that was one of those books that you sometimes read a book, and it just changes the way you think about things. Not all books do that. But this one definitely did. So I’m glad you, I’m glad you shared that. What I want to ask you is you seem so dialed in with your routines. And like it has always been like that, or what was the what created that behavior changing you to get so involved in personal growth and all your habits and routines?

Steve 

Well, actually, I was the antithesis of that. And I like to joke with people my wife gets mad when I do, and I, you know, I was a strong c minus student. I played sports through high school and college and then got hurt. And literally, you know, they say, you know, if you are what you do for a living, who are you when you stop doing it? My whole identity had been wrapped up in sports. And when I couldn’t do it anymore. I really will. In my book, I call it I went into the sex drugs, rock and roll era came out of it met my wife. And here, just to give you an example, my wife’s from Long Island. She was one of three kids. Her dad was the youngest step 11. Her mom was an only child. On the second date, I asked my wife, so what do you want to do with your life? She goes, I want four kids before I’m 30. I want to get my Master’s in five years. And I want to get my doctorate in 10. And she looks at me and says what do you want to do? And I just God’s honest truth, right? And I said I think I want to marry you. And we were married nine months later. I mean, we had four kids when she turned 30. And again, we had four kids six and under. She got her Master’s five years later. And then she waited till she was 48 years old. And our kids were out of the house till she went back and got her doctorate. So I was literally with somebody who, by example, showed me what it was like to live a goal-oriented life. And that was kind of the first step in doing it. And started to transition from, again, kind of like a leaf being blown into the wind to really being intentional and specific with what I chose to do on a day-in and day-out basis.

Ryan  

They reminded me of when I met my wife; she asked me where I see myself in five years. We literally just met her like 30 minutes before that, and she asked me that question. Sounds like they’re similar people.

Steve 

It’s like I said, she’s like the ever-ready money. And then I had. The other thing is if like I always had these ideas inside of me, and again, I experienced some success, but it was almost just like the big leap says I would sell have sabotaged, I would go back and would be like, well, Steven, you don’t deserve this, you don’t deserve to live in a $3 million house, you don’t deserve to be making this much money. And literally, I don’t think it was a conscious thing, Ryan, but unconsciously, as I say in my book, we all have junk in our trunks. And so I literally had to kind of deal with that junk. And once I processed that, and took that, and then surrounded myself with other people, again, just as we were talking about with our kids, that the people they surround themselves with are either lifting them up or pulling them down, there’s no neutral ground; I had to do the same thing with my wife. And I was just blessed to have some really amazing people who poured into me and helped mentor me, help direct me, help hold me accountable, and literally turned my life back around. And now I see to I’m going to be 68 next week, and my best days are still ahead of me. I’m so excited. It’s not like, well, you weren’t I was Entrepreneur of the Year by Ink Magazine; I had all these accolades that built this big business. But I’m so excited about what’s in front of me. And I’m, I feel like I’m just hitting my stride with the purpose that God put me here on Earth. And that’s, again, to help people be the best and achieve the best at the home-work and, and in the community.

Ryan  

I love the topic of self-sabotage; I think about that a lot. And with the success you’ve had over the years with your various businesses, like why do you think you’ve had success versus someone that might be working hard but hasn’t? Is it? Is it a combination of fixing the self-sabotaging the routines, you have hard work? Is there anything else that stands out to you as to what contributed to your success?

Steve

Yeah, I mean, I have a whole formula that contributes to success. And again, going back to timing, Newberry, we’ve got n t plus as k times m d equals P P P, your natural talent, plus your required skills and knowledge times your mental discipline equals your personal performance potential. And literally like to use, like Michael Jordan, as an example. There are lots of Michael Jordan’s driving Budweiser trucks; they can play better ball than Michael on the playground, they had a natural talent, but they never got the acquired skills and knowledge where they lacked the mental discipline to take their game to the next level where they can get compensated for it. So I think that was, you know, that was a big part of it. I worked with my brother; my brother was just a phenomenal marketer and knew when I brought kind of my skill set together with his skill set, good things were going to happen. And we literally had a game plan that we were going to build a $50 million business in five years. And we built a $100 million business in three and a half years. And again, I think part of it was working smart, but part of it was also we had a defined plan. We specifically knew what we knew, but more importantly, we know we knew what we didn’t know. And as I like to say, most of my success in life has come by surrounding myself with people smarter than me. So we would bring people in to fill the gaps with the things that we didn’t know. And I didn’t have a big ego where it’s like, Well, I gotta be the man. You know, I’m real big on you know what’s right. I’m sorry about what’s right, not who’s right, and just getting the right people in the right place. And as John Maxwell says, teamwork makes the dream work. And I truly believe you know, when you look at like, what happened with the Rams when they brought in Matthew Stafford, what happened with the Tampa Bay Bucs when they brought in Tom Brady, it’s amazing. When you bring the right people in, you go from a mediocre organization to a Super Bowl-winning organization. And it works that same way in business and in life, Ryan, with the people that you surround yourself with. And so I’m really specific and meticulous on who those people are. And then again, identifying where my gaps or blind spots are and bringing people in can support that and hold me accountable so that I’m not flying off in the wrong direction.

Ryan  

Yeah, I love the advice. You’re sharing one of my questions. One of my last questions here was gonna be, you know, give any new entrepreneurs listening to your best advice, but I think the last if you just rewind the last five minutes and think there, there’s the answer. So let’s end on this last question; then I can feel your energy, then we’ll wrap up with you telling everyone how you can how can learn more about yourself. Like you feel your energy. Obviously, you have a clear purpose, like how do you feed that, like how do you feed your fulfillment, your energy? How do you see that?

Steve 

In my book, Clarity, it basically, you know, talks about it. It’s called Clarity, how to get it, how to keep it, and how to use it to balance your life. And again, I’ve tried to move away from the balance in the last few years and more integrate my life because it always feels like no matter where you are in your life is out of balance. But to me, it’s all about being intentional. And literally, I’ve been married for 42 years. That takes a lot of intentionality. You know there are good days, there are bad days, and if you just weren’t in your emotions, our marriage would not have lasted very long. But we have couples that we meet with twice a month, we have books that we read together, and I have a network of people that I can call up if I’m having a problem and vent it with them. Again, it comes back down to meeting life. Ryan is pretty simple, personally and professionally. It’s all about the right people and the right opportunities. What I do is I try to take it through three questions, which, again, you haven’t heard anything else yet for the people that are listening. These three questions are life-changing. Number one, will this relationship or opportunity bring more joy or more stress to my life? And again, when you start a business or a new adventure, there’s always going to be some stress. But I’m talking about self-inflicted stress, just like self-sabotaging working with somebody with a toxic personality. And again, I could spend hours talking about this, but I know we just have a few minutes left. Question number two, will this relationship or opportunity help move me closer or farther away from becoming the person I’m striving to become at home, at work in in the community? Again, I cover three things, and I put home first because all the success in the marketplace means nothing if you’re not successful at home, in my opinion, okay, and it’s not being judgmental of people that have struggled there. And then finally, number three, will this relationship or opportunity move me closer or farther from my financial goals? And when I work through my clients, those three questions, I’ll do a whiteboard of every relationship and every opportunity they have, and half the stuff will come off the board and literally get them focused on what they’re passionate about they’re good at. And like it says in the big leap, you know, getting them in their zone of genius, and helping them do, I call them high payback activities, what are the three to five things you do on a daily basis that create the results that you get compensated for, or that move you closer to the vision or mission of your organization, and then helping them delegate or get rid of what I call low payback activities. So, and again, I could go on for hours about this stuff. But I think that’s a good bullet point in a place to kind of pause and close up here.

Ryan  

Yeah, this conversation was excellent. Steve, I know my audience definitely learned things. And you know, they’re they have some actionable takeaways over the last 15-20 minutes. So if someone wants to continue the conversation with you, where should we send them?

Steve  

Yeah, the best place to see that is steve@stevecesari.com. So it’s just my first name. At my first name/ last name Steve Cesari. Steve@Stevecesari.com. Reach out, and I’ll tell you what I’ll do one of the things that really had an impact on me early was a Dale Carnegie course I took in my early 20s. And I got this little book of golden rules that talks about you know what to do, what not to do. If somebody wants to reach out to me, I will send you a free digital version of that. And again, just reach out to me at Steve@SteveCesari.com and I’ll get you a digital version read that, and use that 30-40 years later after first seeing that when I was in my early 20s. So I really appreciate you having me on your show today, Ryan. This was a lot of fun.

Ryan  

Yeah, great job, Steve. Great meeting you, and thanks to everyone for listening.

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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