369 | Jesse Itzler shares why Normal is Broken

Jesse Itzler believes normal is broken. Well, it is more than a belief. He sees the world through the lens of normal will only get you so far. He has lived life and created billion dollar businesses with this lens. “Normal is broken” is more than a mantra for Jesse Itzler. Jesse is the author of Living with a Seal and Living with Monks. He is an ultra-runner and also only eats fruit until noon. Lean in and learn from Jesse Itzler so you can create breakthrough success.

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369 LITT Featuring Jesse Itzler

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Target Audience: Jesse Eric Itzler is an entrepreneur, author, and former rapper. He is the co-founder of Marquis Jet, one of the largest private jet card companies in the world, a partner in Zico Coconut Water, the founder of The 100 Mile Group and an owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.

Normal is Broken: The Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Leaders in the trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.

Gene Hammett: Hi, my name’s Gene Hammett, I’am the host of Leaders in the Trenches and my big question for you today is, are you setting your routine is that routine, defining everything about how you get your work done, no routines for you, maybe something that we’re very comfortable with because they allow you to be productive. Well, what if I told you normal is broken? My guest today really believes that normal is broken. I have Jesse Itzler on the show and Jesse, if you don’t know of him, let me just give you a little bit about him. He had a very early age. He created a category within the music business where he was writing these jingles for NBA teams, kind of odd, but he is a powerhouse. He went on to really create a new category within the aviation world where he had cofounders of Marquis Jet where they were selling 25 our cards and created, I think he’s a $5,000,000,000 in sales and ended up selling that business to Warren Buffet’s investment group.

Gene Hammett: Then he went on from there to help brands like Zico water or coconut water to create a brand that they sold to Coca Cola and all of this was because he believes in his heart and his soul that normal is broken. So we’re going to talk about what he means by normal is broken and we’re going to talk about how you could actually use this to create innovation inside your business. Don’t miss a word of this. You want to stay all the way to the end because we talk about some of the key things that you can do as a leader, as a business owner, to get out of that routine, to really spark something really amazing. Alright, here’s an interview with Jesse.

Gene Hammett: Hey Jesse. How are you?

Jesse Itzler: I’m doing great Gene. How are you?

Gene Hammett: Well, I am fantastic. Thanks for being here at leaders in the trenches.

Jesse Itzler: Appreciate you having me and I appreciate you thinking of me.

Gene Hammett: I recently took your course on a build your life resume and I will say that I jumped in just bond pure faith alone that because you’re awesome in business and in some of the things you accomplished in life, but I got so much out of it in so many areas just seeing how you think is pretty impressive Jesse.

Jesse Itzler: Well, I thank you for taking the course and I was excited to lead it and I think it was more fulfilling for me than anybody else, but I appreciate you staying with it and doing it.

Gene Hammett: Well, for those that don’t know all of your successes, maybe let’s. Let’s just talk about some of the things you’ve done and about, you know, kind of why you do what you’re doing right now. Is that okay?

Jesse Itzler: Sure. I’ve had a very unconventional background in business. I started out in the music business. I was signed to a record label as a rapper in the early nineties. That didn’t go great for me. I pivoted. I got into a different, really created my own category of music. I started writing theme songs for professional sports teams and sold that company to a public company and then I started a private jet company called Marquis jet, which we sold to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire hathaway is a net jets and then got involved with the coconut water company called Zico, which we sold to Coca Cola. I wrote written a couple of books. One’s called living with the seal, one is called living with the monks and that was a really great experience for me. We’re happy to talk about that as well. I’m married four kids and part of the Atlanta Hawks ownership group. I live in Atlanta. I’m an ultra marathon. I ran hundred mile races, ultra paddle board races. I just, I’m going to drink. I guess I’m an adrenaline junkie

Gene Hammett: And I don’t know if you’ve ever been called there. Probably you have, but Mr. Blakely?

Jesse Itzler: I’m married to. My wife’s name is Sara Blakely, founder of spanx and so very often people think that I’m Mr Blakely.

Gene Hammett: Yeah. I say that jokingly, but you know, she’s a powerhouse and so it’s. It’s hard to. I think you do well with her because you probably are very different in the way you approach things. Then Sarah is would you agree?

Jesse Itzler: Went insane. Mary’s insane. You get normal.

Gene Hammett: Okay. Well, I wanted to transition into one particular aspect of this, so over the course of eight weeks we went through very different aspects of creating a life resume and I did this with you in a group format and we listened to videos every week and I wanted to have you on the show, which I don’t do very often because it was so powerful and one element of that Jesse was normal is broken. So let’s set up why is normal broken?

Jesse Itzler: That is. That was what I think. Lecture number six in an eight lecture series, you know we’ve all been taught from the same playbook, which means that if you’re taught from the same playbook and do things the way everybody else does things, you’re going to get the same results as everybody else. I always tell my employees, if nobody taught you how to do your job, how would you do it? And that’s where innovation comes from. That’s where creativity comes from, so I’m a big believer in ripping up the playbook. If you look at the statistics in this country will leave business aside, but you look at the percentage of adult men that are overweight, what 40 percent obese, the divorce rate, I think they just did. A Harris Group conducted a study that 67 percent of adults are unhappy. That’s what normal is leading you down the road too, and I’m a big believer in creating your own system that works for yourself, trying different things until you make your own system, not the system that’s necessarily taught by everybody.

Jesse Itzler: That’s the back bone of what that lecture is and we talk about ways to get out of routine ways to get newness. As an adult gene, it’s really hard to introduce newness into your life and really the only place that you get growth or the place where you get the most growth is stepping into the unknown. Yet we live in routine and you live in routine and the clock goes fast and before you know it you wake up, you’re 70 or 60 pounds overweight and you can’t run the marathon. You always wanted to run when you were younger but didn’t have the time to do so. This course in this particular lecture, normal is broken, is about getting out of your routine and mixing it up to get different results.

Gene Hammett: Well, I will tell you when I first heard you talking about this, my normal routine is, you know, I have a set week and I’ve got a pretty busy schedule and I know what I’m doing on Monday.

Gene Hammett: I know what I’m doing on Tuesdays and Thursdays and so on and so forth and I actually know what I’m doing in the early part of the day and in the later part of the day. And when you said normals broken, change your routine. Like I had this nervous reaction to like, but my routine is my routine.

Jesse Itzler: Exactly.

Gene Hammett: And in some cases it works for me, but in some cases I know that it doesn’t. How do you distinguish between the two?

Jesse Itzler: Well, whatever’s working for you has gotten new as far as it’s gotten you today, but how do you know what your potential is and your limits are unless you mix it up and push yourself in a different direction and so you know, I feel like the only way to really understand that is to, is to try to push your limits and get out of your routine and break it up and routines are really hard to get out of.

Jesse Itzler: Habit is really hard to break. We all know that, but if you, if you’re in a habit that’s only gotten you to this level a, b and you stay in that habit, you’re going to stay at bay and who in the world wants to go through life as a big.

Gene Hammett: Yeah.

Jesse Itzler: You always want to see how much can you do? I mean at least I do. So you know, I’ve always been a believer in checking the box and moving on. You finish something, you celebrate it for a day and then it’s over. You know, if you didn’t ask me to tell you about my background, Marquis jet, big win for us. We did $5 million in sales. We sold it. Amazing. I never think about it because it’s over it. Nobody cares that the Dallas Mavericks won the championship six years ago. It’s over to. You check the box and you move on.

Jesse Itzler: You don’t live in routine. And that’s what I’m saying when I say that it’s broken. We just live in Narberth, this routine and then the time flies by and you’re like, where all the time the time went, went doing the same stuff you’ve been doing every day.

Gene Hammett: No. Jessie, when you were talking about this, I happen to have my book on my desk and which is not always the case, but I wrote this and it’s called the trap of success. You see that? I do, and it really was about, you know, a tough time in my life where I looked back and I was in routine and I’ve never broken that pattern. I was comfortable and I was complacent, right? I drifted along and I was very successful and I had created freedom in my business, in my life, but you know, the book kind of goes into how I lost it all and I only could see what happened by losing it and looking back,

Jesse Itzler: It’s interesting.

Gene Hammett: And that’s um, you know, that’s. This was my moment. This was my living with a seal part of life of how difficult it was. Here’s what’s 30 days, mine was, was years, but when you think about normal is broken, let’s dive into a few of the key concepts behind this. So what do you think you should be doing to break those routines?

Jesse Itzler: I think you should put something big on your calendar every year. I think it’s really important. There’s an old Japanese ritual we talked about in the course called the Muskogee, where you put something so big and challenging and scary on the calendar one time a year that the benefit lasts all 364 other days. The important thing about putting something on your calendar is it forces you to get at a routine. You have to all of a sudden you have a new, a new time commitment, so you have to weed out the things that aren’t important and you have to start saying no to create more time for the newness and usually when you do that you weed out the things that aren’t as important.

Jesse Itzler: You prioritize the things that are so it creates you and this necessity have newness in data, beauty, routine. Just because you have this new big challenge on the horizon. I like mixing up my commutes. I like going where I think best to really get clarity. You know, I don’t spend enough probably like many of the listeners time alone, so I need, you know, I’ve almost kind of over time you start to lose your ability to think and your gut instinct because you’re relying on Siri and Alexa and Google instead of like your ability to think and then you lose your intuition. So I do all those kinds of things to try to really be in tune with myself, but whatever I can do to mix it up, I do. If that’s rearranging my closet once in a while, taking a different route, changing eating with a different hand, you know, going from right hand to left hand with my spoon, anything and I make a mental note of it like I’m aware of, very aware of, wow, I’m doing this differently today. We could just kind of inviting in newness into my life.

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Gene Hammett: I know this serves you in many different areas because that’s one of the things that was part of the life resume. There’s many areas where we need to be looking and being intentional for you. One of those things is relationships.

Jesse Itzler: Yeah. Which actually goes to what you were just. We were just talking about normal is broken. You know, I was just thinking about it in my head. We hear all the time from the experts, oh, you want to be around like minded people. Surround yourself with like minded people. Why? If they’re just like you, they’re going to do the same stuff. It’s good to where’s the growth? I try to surround myself with people that aren’t like minded. That’s why I brought a navy seal to come live in my house. That’s why I went to go live with the monks. Now you don’t have to go that extreme, but the way you like get, learn more stuff and become more interesting and you know, feel most alive is when you learn and you learn from people, but you learn from people that aren’t like exactly like you.

Jesse Itzler: I spent all the time with my twin brother that I don’t have I, we’d be this, you know, I want learn anything, so I try to get out and, and expand through people.

Gene Hammett: When you think about normal is broken, how has that really paid off for you and your business success?

Jesse Itzler: Every area of my life, it’s paid off for me. First of all, I’ve had no prior experience in anything I’ve gotten into in my life in business. I started in an aviation company with knowing nothing about jets, airplanes. I had no airplanes. I didn’t know a lot of rich friends, but what that meant was a guarantee that I was going to have different results than all the other companies and met my marketing would be different. It meant my pricing would be different. How I talk to customers would be different. So that same theme is translated into everything.

Jesse Itzler: Coconut water. I had no beverage experience. I didn’t know anything about the product other than I loved it and it made me feel good and again, it just guaranteed you’re going to get different results from everybody else. For a lot of people it’s a deterrent, like I don’t have enough experience or you know, I’m scared to do it this way. Everybody else is doing it that way, but for me it was the greatest blessing because it just guaranteed. It just assured me I was going to have different results.

Gene Hammett: Now I know a little bit about you just from, from reading and everything. Jessie, you said that you created a new category of music. You create a new category in aviation where I know you initially got thrown out of the building because you were just a young kid, right? We’re 25 years old or so.

Jesse Itzler: Twenty eight, 29 and you actually came back and said, look, no one’s going to buy a private jet, you know, are a fraction of this, but they’ll buy 25 hours.

Jesse Itzler: Correct.

Gene Hammett: It was a new category at the time. Right. It was Zico water. I mean, no one was really drinking coconut water. It was a new category at the time. Yup. So you’re, you’re literally a trailblazer. Like,

Jesse Itzler: oh man. Well thank you. I just, you know, I’m always wide eyes wide open. Looking for opportunity, I’m not scared to go in with a white spaces and that’s, you know, I’m not scared to. Again, we’re talking about normal is broken. The innovation doesn’t come from following what others have done for 27 years. I’ve only eaten fruit until noon. That’s been my diet fruit only till 12 noon every single day. Unwaveringly, unwavering and I just went to the website of Kellogg’s.

Jesse Itzler: I was looking at some of some big companies today, their website and they’re all promoting how breakfast is the most important meal and when I have a heavy breakfast and he, you know, a Bagel or toast and oatmeal and then I have a little muffin and this and that. I get tired. I need a pick me up. I did a five hour energy or coffee that I don’t drink, but when I eat a smoothie, I’m 90 miles an hour all day, boundless energy. So I just. I’m not saying that’s the right way to do it or wrong way to do it. All I’m saying is I stepped away from what the quote unquote experts were saying about breakfast being the most important meal and I created a system that works best for me and that’s what I encourage people to do in business or anything.

Jesse Itzler: You know, if everybody says, knock out your emails first thing in the morning, but for some reason in your life you get more clarity at [4:00], at [4:00]. It doesn’t matter. You create the system that works best for you and you do it through trial and error.

Gene Hammett: I know that’s, that’s for me, I’m, I’m very guarded over the time where I’m most creative and it’s really hard to get a meeting. I’m actually less creative in the afternoon so I do my calls, my interviews and what not. Not that I, I rise to the occasion, but if I’ve got to sit down and write something. Like the book was all written, you know, between nine and noon and it wasn’t really a play a play from your book, but I actually didn’t eat until I finished a chapter and that was my motivation.

Jesse Itzler: I love that.

Gene Hammett: I wouldn’t eat until noon. I love it and I did it. I did it that way. So when you, Jesse, you think about this normal is broken and creating categories in business. What do you look for now when you’re working with brands and how are you advising them? Because I know you do this with 100 group as well.

Jesse Itzler: Well first of all, right now for me at this stage in my life, I just turned 50. I have four kids. The first thing I look for is low aggravation. I have a very simple. We talked about this measuring stick and that’s aggravation versus reward. So I look for things and people that aren’t going to be highly aggravating to me in my life. Look, I look for products that I understand, things that I understand, things that I have, passion for, things that are fulfilling to me that do good for the world, and then I try to like immediately go in my head five years down the road and I look at what this could be, what the potential is.

Jesse Itzler: Can I help drive the potential there? Can I help fulfill that potential? Can I add value to it? You know, what am I strengths, what are my weaknesses and my strengths help here. Do they have people that can fill in my weaknesses? All of these things very quickly go through my head and I spit out a number on a one to 10 of how, how interested I am in it or no, yes or no?

Gene Hammett: Well, I want to give you a chance to maybe go a little bit deeper into some of your work and we can go outside. Normal is broken, whatnot, but people are listening in here and they know they need a jolt in life. They know they need a jolt and creating something that fulfills them. The first thing they’re going to do tomorrow is wake up, maybe have a cup of coffee or a banana or a smoothie.

Gene Hammett: What would you tell them to be thinking about or doing and in 15 minutes time frame to help them really think about making that change.

Jesse Itzler: I mean, if someone’s thinking about making a change, a lot of that usually stems from what they’re doing for a living because you spend 40 to 50 hours a doing that. I heard a great thing that I really resonated with me and like a great novel. Humans have a beginning, a middle and an end, and we reflect on the beginning a lot work. We live in the middle right now. That’s where we spend most of our time. Most of our mind share is in the middle. We don’t like to think about the end. In fact, I bet almost everybody listening to this probably doesn’t have a plot picked out where they going to be buried. We just don’t want to deal with it, but.

Jesse Itzler: But it’s gonna happen and we spend in the middle time. Most of our time at work and what I heard that resonated with me was either you have a job, you have a career or you have a calling and as you get older, the best place to be is doing something that’s really. You’re calling for Eugene. You know, you have a lot of things going on you, you’re a writer, you have a podcast, do you have investments, you have a lot, you know, those all might be part of your calling, but for many people they go through life. Unfortunately, what they consider a living. God, it’s just a job. Uh, not really. It’s 40 hours a week for the last 15 years. It’s not just the job, it’s your time, your aging and all that stuff. So my advice would be like, what is it that you love to do and who do you love to do it with?

Jesse Itzler: My advice is super simple. Put more things on your plate of the things you love to do with the people you love to do them with, period.

Gene Hammett: Yeah, I can get behind that. I love to travel. I love experiences much more than I love any kind of have like a car or watch or anything like that. But when you talked about this, I kept thinking about the experiences I want to have and who I want to have those experiences with. And so you just reminded me again. So Jesse.

Jesse Itzler: Yeah, no, no, last one, sorry to interrupt you. Yeah, that was, you know, you have to work and I get that. I don’t want to be misinterpreted here. Obviously happy in your job and doing something that’s incredibly fulfilling, but for me it may be. It’s an inflection point because I just turned 50 and maybe that’s really impacted how I think about it, but when I think about like what is the next chapter look like for me the next 30 years, of course I’m going to be working and doing things I don’t want to do sometimes and I’m going to have ups and downs, but the things that I can control, like spending more time with the people I want to spend it with, doing more of the things I love to do with them that just has to get reprioritized and really become a priority.

Jesse Itzler: Otherwise I’m going to have a tremendous amount of regret. So that’s what I’m just trying to focus on and that’s, you know, there’s not a single day that goes by where I’m not planning thinking or taking action steps towards that. Well, I can agree with all of this stuff that we’ve been talking about today and that’s the reason I wanted to have you on here and get this message out to my audience and then to be able to spread that to as far as we can get it to spread. So Jesse, thanks for being here at leaders in the trenches. Thank you, Gene.

Gene Hammett: I love, love this interview. Hopefully you took notes. I know I did and if you are ready to light the world on fire, I want you to check in with yourself and make sure your routine is not something you just do every day because that’s what you’ve always done than you really think about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it and if it’s really serving you to create the life that you want and even the business you want to create, some freedom creates impact in the world. My Name’s Gene Hammett, I worked with hyper-growth companies and if you are someone who thinks about leadership and thinks about you’re really creating something powerful and creating a team and creating a business that does fuel your, your lifestyle and your work and your impact world, I want to make sure I can help you if you are enjoying the content, right. If you have any questions, you want a second set of eyes around your business, your leadership or culture. That’s what I excel at. I studied hypergrowth companies and I’d love to help you to make sure you’re checking in with me. Send me an email, [email protected], or just engage with me on social media. You’ll see me in all the right channels. Alright, that’s my piece today. As always, lead with courage.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • Why normal is broken
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Routine into your Life
  • Hyper-growth companies



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