For Norm Brodsky, the secret to his incredible business success comes down to a few key habits, developed over time based on his strengths and weaknesses. It's no surprise then, that he uses the same approach when working to conquer a lifelong challenge of eating healthfully so that he can continue to thrive in the areas that most excite him: entrepreneurship, mentoring and all around enjoying life.
I spoke to Norm recently about how he correlates healthy business practices to establish healthy eating habits. Whether he is talking increasing sales or eating breakfast, it's all about one thing: Approach it like you'll be doing it for life.
What business habits do you bring to your nutrition goals?
I always tell young entrepreneurs to build their businesses like they're going to run it forever even if that is not their intention. The reason for this is if they take the time to build it properly, cultivate the right environment, hire the right people and train the staff the way they want the team to operate, it'll increase the likelihood for success and sustainability.
I approach my nutritional health in the same way; I look at it as a life-long process that I need to build from the ground up in a way that works for me and that I can sustain forever. Sure, I'll have some setbacks but I'll never give up. If you build a business and an eating style with a lifetime outlook your chances of being successful are greater, and that's all you want.
You talk a lot about the importance of making mistakes, how they are a valuable part of building a successful business. Tell me how making mistakes helps you in business and in your approach to nutrition.
The only way to learn what works and what doesn't is by making mistakes. When we make mistakes we then have to understand how we contributed to them. Once that is understood, we can use that to form our habits, good habits that will get us to where we want to go. Habits help us develop discipline, and the more discipline you have, the greater your chances of success. Without mistakes you can't learn, without knowing, you can't create habits and without habits, you can't be successful. Like in business, I found that I had to first recognize the nutritional mistakes I was making, then I had to change the way I do things and then keep doing them.
What does being healthy mean for you?
What's funny is that I always equated being thin to being healthy, which I now know is not necessarily true. There are chubby people who are healthy, which I am always trying to point out to my wife (laughter). There are also thin people who are not healthy.
To me, being nutritionally healthy has to do with my mind and the way I think so that I can better interact with my business. You can't run a company if you're not healthy. So I approach my health like I do my business. It's the business of getting healthy.
What was the catalyst for you?
I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and then a rapid heart rate, both of which woke me up that a change was necessary. So like in business, I looked at my strengths and my weaknesses and saw that I could make two key changes that would play into my strengths.
What were they?
The first thing I did was give up caffeine. That was hard because I thought caffeine was the greatest thing in the world! It was my habit to have two to four cups of coffee as I rushed to work. Coffee was breakfast. It's what I fueled myself on. If I felt tired later in the day, I just had more coffee never once considering it was a lack of proper nutrition that was making me feel tired.
When you made this change, what did you substitute the coffee with?
I need a hot beverage in the morning, so I started having decaffeinated tea. And this worked for me. It was an easy substitution. And though I do miss coffee once in a while, I don't drink it.
What did you do after that?
After years of nearly never having breakfast, I started eating something in the morning, which wasn't easy for me. For a long time I struggled with it, only managing to have it a few times a week. But like in business, I kept at it. Now I virtually never skip breakfast.
Two great habits to lead with! What did you do after that?
That's where you came into the picture. Recognizing my weaknesses, I knew I needed someone to work with.
With you I learned that breakfast was indeed important, but what I eat for breakfast is as important. Before, I was having a big bowl of cereal and you pointed out that it contained a lot of sugar. Now I have a couple of eggs and that has made a difference in my appetite and energy level.
How has this helped you?
You'd be hard pressed to find someone else in my age group with as much energy as I have and that is a big motivation for me.
I love building businesses, mentoring young entrepreneurs, being with people, so having enough energy to manage all of that is a huge motivator. I love what I do and I don't intend stopping.
What do you do when you come up against challenges?
I'm a procrastinator by nature and when I don't like to do something I tend to push it aside. But you can't do that in business. For example, I love the sales side of business but not the administration side. Yet, I couldn't ignore it and expect to be successful, so instead I trained myself to deal with the administration side of things up front. I made it a habit to do what I liked least, first and this was part of my success.
Same with this. For example, I love bread yet I recognize that to get to where I want to be nutritionally, I need to eat less of it. So now, I deal with my bread temptations up front. Rather than having the bread basket sit in front of me tempting me, I tell the waiter not to leave it at the table. If I'm with a group of people, I move the basket to the other side of the table. If I treat that which I like least up front, my chances of success will be better.
What's you ultimate goal with this?
I'm trying to maintain certain weight standards, which is very difficult for me. I actually started this in order to lose weight and ended up not losing a ton of weight but picking up a set of habits that have helped me keep my energy high, my thinking sharp, and my body in better health.
The losing weight part is difficult for me but my approach continues to be the same. I address one habit at a time when I'm ready and like in business, I keep at it. I focus on making improvement, minimizing mistakes, and eating in a way that supports vitality so that I can thrive in every area of my life.
In a nutshell, what's the key habit to your success both in business and in health?
Repetitiveness. First find the best way to do something and keep at it that way.
And never, never, never, NEVER give up!