Phil Hellmuth Jr. set out from a very early age to become the greatest poker player of all time. 14 World Series of Poker Championships (and counting) later, it’s clear he succeeded. Beyond poker, he’s also a New York Times bestselling author, a TV commentator, and a tech investor.
Now, Phil has a new goal: to inspire a global audience to do better, think bigger, do more, and achieve their dreams. His new book is called #Positivity, and in it, he shares his unique perspectives, as well as tools and strategies that you can implement right away.
Today, Phil joins the podcast to share stories about setting (and meeting) goals of all sizes, why honesty sells, and why it’s so important to follow your code – no matter what it is.
- Where Phil was when he decided to become the greatest poker player of all time.
- How to create a pyramid for success to measure both your strengths and weaknesses.
- Why we’re always in the right place at the right time – yet so few of us realize it.
- The big reason that people fall apart when they’re on the edge of major success.
- The power of asking “Why not me?” – and why it’s good to be entitled.
- And much more…
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- #POSITIVITY: You Are Always In The Right Place At The Right Time
- Poker Brat: Phil Hellmuth’s Autobiography
- Write Like a Boss: From a Whisper to a Roar
- Lean in
- Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes
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TRANSCRIPTClick here to Read the Transcript
Hal: All right. Achieve Your Goals Podcast listeners, hey, it’s your host, Hal Elrod, or your co-host. Now I’ve got Jon Berghoff on the mic who graciously when I was diagnosed with cancer, I think most of you know, he offered to help me in any way that he could and that was one thing. As I said, I don’t know how I’m going to maintain this podcast and he said, “No problem, buddy. I got it for you.” And now I can’t get rid of him.
But today I’m excited to bring a guest to you. It’s interesting. I was just reminding this guest that we actually met. In fact, I went to his house and sat at his kitchen table 16 years ago when I tried to sell him Cutco cutlery. So, my background for 1998 when I was 19 years old to 2006 when I was how many years later that is, I sold Cutco knives and I was out in the Bay Area for about six months living out there and selling out there and this woman said, “Hey, I’m friends with one of the best poker players in the world. He’s like the world champion poker player, Phil Hellmuth. Do you want me to refer you to Phil and maybe do a presentation for him?” And I said, “Yeah. It sounds cool.” Sounds like a fascinating individual, right?
So, I got referred to Phil, went over and did my presentation. His wife wasn’t there. I’m pretty sure she did the cooking at the time and he kind of said, “I don’t know. I don’t know what my wife needs. She should’ve been here shooting.” So, yeah, it didn’t turn out into a sale, but it was a great experience and it is just kind of wild how 16, 17 years later now Phil and I were reconnected by my business partner in the Miracle Morning book series, Honoree Corder, and who also works with Phil on his new book, POSITIVITY, which we are going to talk about today.
But first, I want to get Phil an official, formal, worthwhile introduction here. So, if you’re not familiar, this is Phil Hellmuth. And I’ll tell you, he’s a family man first and foremost. He lives in Northern California with his wife of 28 years. Phil has the following life goal, become the greatest poker player of all time. This is just a tiny little no big deal goal, become the greatest poker player of all time. And I’ll tell you after winning a record 14 world championships and counting, he still plays at the World Series of Poker. Phil has achieved that goal. He’s considered the best in the world when it comes to poker. Phil is a New York Times best-selling author, a television commentator, a businessman and a tech investor with his new book, POSITIVITY. Phil truly wishes to inspire a global audience to become better, to think bigger, to do more, and to ultimately achieve their dreams and based on what he’s achieved in his life and the dreams he’s accomplished that he can’t really think there’s much better of a person to bring on the show today to talk to you about how to do this. So, Phil Hellmuth, welcome my friend. Welcome.
Phil: It’s really nice to be here. That’s really wild that you were at my kitchen table. I’m sitting at that same table right now.
Hal: Are you? How funny. At the same house?
Phil: Same house. Yeah.
Hal: Wow. Yeah. It was a nice house. That’s wild though. Yeah. I’m thinking when the lady referred me to you I can’t remember her name but I’m thinking, “This guy he’s rich. He can definitely buy something,” but, again, I missed the point of making sure your wife was there which is something that my manager told us plenty of times, have both spouses there and I don’t always listen. I think I was anxious to meet you, so I skipped it.
Well, anyway, man. So, before we get into the book which I’ve read through more than half of it this morning and it’s great. It’s literally, it’s about an hour read. So, I love books where quality over quantity where you literally get to the entire book and really bring in the full concept or concepts that the author being you are trying to get across and just been out a day or two and then you can implement them right away which is something I’ve already started to do since this morning. But before we get into the book, talk about I’m sure audience is just curious, how do you become the world’s greatest poker player? I guess it starts, how do you become a poker player and get to the point where actually you make the decision to do that for a living where you’re actually going to support yourself and your family by playing cards? Tell us the story of how that came to be.
Phil: You know, I was at the University of Wisconsin and found this poker game at the Memorial Union. You were allowed to smoke pot in that place, but God forbid, if you try to play poker for small stakes. They didn’t like that which is kind of weird. Anyway, so I started there, and I remember I just love the game and then that led to a bigger game. My autobiography Poker Brat came out August 1 but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about POSITIVITY because I’m so excited about that book. But I talk about kind of then we moved on to there’s always another poker game. There’s always someone that plays another game so that was kind of a theater game I would call it for the big game. And so, imagine that I’m this 20-year-old college student playing poker and all of a sudden, I find myself in the big game looking across the table, 45-year-old professor, doctor, lawyer, professor, barrister. No one there was under the age of 38 and you have 20-year-old Phil sitting at the table and just winning all the money. I just remember winning $2,700 was my record that game. You have to understand that was 33 years ago, so you can multiply that by about…
Hal: It’s a lot of money. Yeah.
Phil: Yeah. And so, I remember I paid off my student loans and just thought to myself, “All right, now if I continue along this traditional path,” and I did try to make it to business school and that was the last straw. When I didn’t quite have the grades for business school, I applied myself. I grabbed a 3.8 or whatever one semester just to show them I could do it and then I applied, and they still rejected me. So, I started studying philosophy instead and just decided, “All right. I’m going to play poker and really you think about poker. It’s philosophy in business. So, perfect.”
I guess I never did finish my degree and I think that a pivotal moment for me that I talk about in POSITIVITY and Poker Brat is when I was playing a small stakes game in Wisconsin and I think had $20,000 in the bank and we’re playing like stakes or maybe I can win $300 or $400 and I was like bored and tired and I’m not a drug God but I convinced some of my friends to leave and we smoked pot and we had a drink and so we’re playing pool and it’s 1 in the afternoon in this bar, this dingy-lit bar and it’s an overcast day all day and I’m just like and I just look at, I’m like, “What am I doing with my life? What is this kind of like playing $10, $20 a game at pool. I’ve smoked pot and I’m having a drink and its 1 PM.” I went to the side door and I pulled the door open and the sunlight had come streaming out. It was overcast all day and so this just thing of opening this door and this light just hit me in the face and it’s bouncing off the snow banks and light everywhere and I’m like, “Oh my God.” It’s like, “Many days go by, water flowing underground.” It’s like that Talking Heads song.
And I zipped out of there and I hopped in a taxi and went back to my apartment and said, “Listen, alright, this is it. I mean, if you’re going to be a professional poker player, you’re going to be the best in the world,” and so I wrote down my life goals which is a chapter, one of the eight chapters in my book, pouring on a chapter but essential. And then I wrote down this pyramid of success, how am I going to get from here to there. And kind of just decided I’m going to continue playing poker and I loved it, I was going to be the best in the world and kind of started making a plan to get there. And so, two of the chapters come from basically that day and the next thing you know I was 24 and I had won the main event which was $750,000. That was 1989. So, multiply that times whatever, 30. It’s a lot of money.
Hal: That was what? 1999?
Hal: Okay. I was going to say no because when I met you, you were much older than 26.
Hal: I’m doing the math there. I’m like, “Wait. That doesn’t make sense.” All right. Yeah.
Phil: But to win the main event like that was lifetime goal and so…
Hal: At 24-year-old. Yeah.
Phil: Yeah. I was able to scratch a bunch of lifetime goals off the list by the time I was 26 with the last one being write a New York Times bestseller and then that happened for me in 2004.
Hal: Awesome. And, yeah, you mentioned your first chapter of the book are writing down your life goals. For me, when it comes to reading a book, I think that most people they want new, new, new, new, new. Right? I think that’s a big part of our culture that we want. What’s the new app or the new, right, you look at advertising, for example, Taco Bell. How many configurations can they put of a tortilla and cheese and some ground beef and beans? Like, Taco Bell is just, “The new Inside Out Burrito Taco Loco!” Right? So, they know people want new and that people go to Taco Bell because now there’s taco where the shell is made of fried chicken. It’s crazy. So, the point is that I really come to appreciate and understand that the value of repetition and the value of learning fundamental concepts and really rooting your life and your work in these foundational fundamental proven principles that have worked for centuries that continue to work.
And so, what I like about your chapter 1 and what I like about anytime I hear or read something that I am familiar with like you’re not the first person that said, “Write down your goals,” but you are the first person that said to write down your goals the way that you said it and that’s what I love is it’s able to reinforce concepts that I’m already familiar with but for me, it caused me to pull out my goals and do some editing and make some upgrades and some adjustments. So…
Phil: Oh, that’s awesome. I’m glad of that.
Hal: Yeah. Absolutely. So, I loved that.
Phil: If you’re making adjustments, oh I’ve done something right here. I love that. By the way, it’s interesting because I almost didn’t want to have that chapter in there because it isn’t new like I think the other seven chapters introduce concepts people haven’t really seen before or ideas and concepts surrounding them and I’m like it’s just essential that you have the life goals in there and, yeah, it’s repetitive but I’m glad that you saw something new in there in that chapter.
Hal: Absolutely. So, let’s start at kind of the beginning in terms of you’re a New York Times best-selling author and this is your first – you decided to self-publish this one, right?
Phil: You know, Honoree Corder who is your business partner, she is amazing. Another friend of yours and mine is Dan Casetta and Dan even though I’ve written a New York Times bestseller, even though I’ve published Poker Brat, 145,000 words, he said, “Why don’t you call her?” Basically, I was trying to figure out after writing 145,415-page book if I could get away with writing 10,000 words and having it be a book, it fits in your back pocket. Well, she encouraged me, and I just thought she is the best book consultant in the world. And I didn’t how much business I would do with her, but I figured out take at least an hour and then she brought me an amazing – Honoree’s amazing like she’s the best book consultant in the world. She brought me, look at the cover. Folks at home, go to Amazon, go to #POSITIVITY, her folks designed that cover for me. She had people that edited the inside of the book. It’s beautiful and I’m sure you can attest to what she’s done.
Hal: Sure. Yeah. Absolutely. She’s probably the most knowledgeable when it comes to all things books, book writing, book editing, book formatting, book design, book marketing, she’s probably one of the most educated person that I know.
Phil: Right. Well, what’s her book? Write A Book Like A Boss?
Hal: She’s got so many of them. Yeah. I mean, I can’t even keep track.
Phil: There are 30 books out there she’s crushing. And so, yeah, so I mean let’s move to chapter 2 of POSITIVITY which I like but it’s not the most interesting but it’s so simple. You write down your yearly goals and tape them to your bathroom mirror. That’s a chapter. Yeah, there are some unique ways I do that and there are some really cool things and then the third chapter, it’s basically write down your blessings and tape them to your bathroom mirror. So, those are the two chapters where every morning you’re brushing your teeth, you’re putting on makeup or whatever, you’re messing around with your hair, you’re shaving and there it is on your bathroom mirror right in front of you your yearly goals which of course tie in to your lifetime goals and your blessings. So, you leave the day informed and you leave the day happy because that blessings, and I talk about at the top of the blessings list is always health and then family for most of us. And so, yeah, I mean those are kind of fun. Those are basic chapters but that’s what I’ve done. I’ve been very lucky to accomplish a lot in my life. I’m really proud of this book and I’m really proud of the fact that Sheryl Sandberg gave me an amazing jacket blurb for the back of that.
Hal: So, did Tony Robbins. Yeah. Not bad. In fact, let’s just might as well pause. Here’s what Tony Robbins says, “Phil Hellmuth has achieved extraordinary success as the world’s greatest poker player and deep personal fulfillment as a dedicated father and husband in his powerful new book, POSITIVITY. He shared tips on how to realize your dreams,” and then since I’m looking at Sheryl Sandberg.
Phil: Yes. Tell me. Thank you. Sheryl is awesome.
Hal: Sheryl says, “Phil Hellmuth Jr.” she got the junior in there, “lets down his poker face and shares the personal strategies that help him achieve success as a world-class poker player and best-selling author. His easy-to-follow, but powerful tips will inspire you to achieve your own dreams and incorporate #POSITIVITY into everything you do.”
Phil: Hal, do me a favor and read that last part like the easy-to-follow and powerful. She is so amazing.
Hal: His easy-to-follow, but powerful tips will inspire you to achieve your own dreams and incorporate #POSITIVITY into everything you do.
Phil: Sheryl Sandberg is amazing too. I mean, she started the whole movement, Lean In. and then, of course, I am just so honored to have those two give me such great quotes and then Draymond Green who I love and as a friend of mine gave me a pretty simple quote there but it’s pretty cool stuff.
Hal: Yeah. No, that is exciting, and you keep good company, Phil. That says something about you right there.
Phil: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. I’ve been very, very lucky.
Hal: So, yes, the book you cover your unique way of how you kind of set and write down your life goals, how you bathroom mirror your yearly goals, your blessings to keep them top of mind which is so important and for me, I have a habit of mine or not bathroom mirror but they are going to be now because I read your book and started this morning.
Phil: Oh, that’s awesome. Big compliment if I’m influencing you again. Oh, sweet!
Hal: No, absolutely but for me, here’s what I love about it is I’m actually going to use it for my kids. So, I’m going to bathroom mirror my goals and my wife’s goals to set the example for my two kids and then when I read it, that’s actually what it got me excited right away is I thought I want to bathroom mirror to set the example for the kids because I want to actually help them set your goals for this year and then bathroom mirror their goals so, yeah, that’s fantastic.
Phil: I knew I kind of had a hit book there when I was sending it to my friends and saying, “Hey, you can’t show this to anybody,” and they’re like, “Can I read it to my wife? Can I read it to my kids?” And I was like, “Oh my God, my super amazing friends are reading my book to their wife and kids.” And I was just like I just felt like, “Wow, this is…” and what I tried to do, Hal, is basically have truth like I have eight chapters in here, it’s all about truth and I was lucky with play poker like the pros. I wrote the truthful best way to play poker and I hit the bestseller list. So, I have this theory if you present truth, you can sell tons of copies and help a lot of people.
Hal: Yeah. No, you’re absolutely right. And that resonates in your voice through the book. I want to talk about one of the things you covered in the book which is definitely unique. I’ve never seen it this way, heard it this way, have it structured this way. It’s creating your pyramid for success. Talk about what that is, what that means, what that will do for people.
Phil: Yeah. That was something that I just came up with way back in 1988 and so basically, I just thought I like the concept of a pyramid and I thought, “Well, if I wanted to be the greatest poker player of all time, I can write down I’ll have this pyramid that will help show me my strengths and weaknesses.” And so basically, I took 10 different blocks to this pyramid and the top of the list, money management. Top of the list will be money management for most people, so the very top pyramid will be money management for most of the world and the reason why is you want to be able to pay your bills on time and that takes enormous pressure off of people. If you’re not paying your bills on time, you’re worried about being kicked out, you’re worried about having your phone shut off, all of the stuff. So, that was kind of the top layer, that was kind of the top one for me but down below for me was, “All right. Let’s not become pure poker player but it’s not become a compulsive gambler or it’s not…”
Hal: There’s a difference between the two, right?
Phil: Well, I mean, sure. You can make a lot of money playing poker. A lot of the great poker players have made deck a millions playing the game. It doesn’t mean that we have to fall under the trap of losing money playing crap so betting things too much money sports. I watch a lot of my friends have these weaknesses. So, yeah, it was kind of a level of the pyramid, let’s avoid being compulsive and that includes compulsive when it comes to drugs or drinking too much. And so, kind of like you have 10 concepts, some stuff I needed to avoid and wanted to avoid and then there are some other things that, “All right. This is what you need to have. You need to have discipline if you’re going to be a professional poker player,” and discipline is hugely important. And so, right way back when, I came up with this pyramid and kind of a moment of inspiration and it’s kind of guided my life.
Hal: That’s beautiful and I think it is those things that we come up with. Well, in fact, you know what, I’m actually going to shut myself up because you talk about this later in talking about how opening doors. For anybody listening, the subtitle of Phil’s book so the book is #POSITIVITY. The subtitle is: You Are Always in The Right Place at The Right Time. And I want to talk to you about that one because that for me I thought was – I’m actually skipping a chapter because that was the most valuable part for me was what I’m skipping, and I want to close with that. So, what the second most valuable takeaway for me was about being in the right place at the right time. And the chapter you talk about is called Open A Door. Well, what does that mean? Can you explain for people what does that mean you’re always in the right place at the right time? I know some listeners might feel like they are too often in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Phil: I know.
Hal: I would love to know, hey, how do I either get to the right place or realize that I am already in the right place.
Phil: They’re already in the right place and so that was so powerful. What I wanted to call this book is How to Achieve Great Things in Life and as the years passed I became known as the #POSITIVITY guy in Twitter. So, I’m like, “You know what, that’s cool.”
Hal: Stick with what works. Yeah.
Phil: Yeah. And then I thought, “All right. I’m going to change.” It was so powerful to tell people you are in the right place at the right time. And so, this started when I moved to the Bay Area in 1996 or whatever or was 1995 and 1994. That’s right. And so, I remember moving here and running into all these successful people and ask them, “How did you do this?” And they always said, “I was in the right place at the right time.” And I was drilling down on that and I kept hearing that from a dozen people and each time I’d kind of dig for more, they’re just being modest but they really felt that was the case and so I spent 10 years thinking about this and thinking we’re always in the right place at the right time, everybody is, but most people don’t understand that.
And so, it’s very simple. I can explain it like this. The people that know they’re in the right place at the right time they see a door that they can open, a figurative door. If they open the door and, boom, there are four more doors but if you’re not looking for doors, most people in the world aren’t looking for these doors and so they’re missing out all around them. They have the sense that maybe something great could’ve happened to me today but didn’t. They have the sense that, “Maybe I was in a very cool place today,” but they didn’t see the right door to take. And so, the way that kind of explained that to people is there’s two different people sitting at the dinner table, two men or woman sitting at the dinner table. They lay out let’s call them men just to save time. Well, women to save time. Screw it. A woman lays out the amazing her dream. We’ll call it a man because it’s a sports bar concept.
Hal: Maybe we go transgender. That’s kind of a thing. Okay. Right. Never mind.
Phil: Sure. So, the one guy he lays down this plan for the perfect sports bar in front of his wife and kids and then he says, “Martha, please pass the peas,” to his wife. “Martha please.” It means he’s forgotten all about it. He laid down this. Now, the second guy lays down this amazing idea for a sports bar, but the difference is the next day when he is coming back for more peas he says, “You know what, I’m going to spend an extra 20 minutes and I’m going to stop by my favorite sports bar.” And so, he’s decided to open the door. Okay, now, yeah. Or of course he’s opened the real door, walk into the sports bar but I’m talking about the figurative door.
Hal: Which is an opportunity, right? Would you say a door represents an opportunity?
Phil: Correct. He knows his vision and he decided to move forward and it’s as simple as stopping by his favorite sports bar. Now, after he walks through that door, the figurative door, who knows? Someone might be there. You can immediately see, Hal. Any of our listeners can imagine six or seven doors right behind that one. One of them being that the sports bar owner is like sick of owning the place and he wants to sell it to him. That’s kind of an ideal scenario whereas on the other end of the door spectrum maybe door number seven, the owner says, “Hey, you’re going to have to work 60 hours a week. You have to be here at close,” and the guy is like, “I don’t want to do that.”
But at least he’s pursued this, and he’s found out very quickly that that’s not the dream he wants to pursue. But if it is one of the dreams he wants to pursue, maybe the owner of this bar helps him finance his own place. Maybe he helps him find some bankers or the people that financed him. The point is there’ll be another door there and when you choose that door you’re even further along. And so, we’re always all of us in these situations and so I kind of set up the first few chapters of the book to have people decide what exactly they want to do in life and what their strengths and weaknesses are. So, they’ve already thought about all that and then it should be easier for them to understand what door they’re looking for.
Hal: I love it. I love it and that really is it. You hear so many times, people, it’s almost like a part of our culture that kind of almost a joke where it’s like, “Oh, I invented that, but I thought…” like you’ve seen an invention or a new product or something. “I invented that like three years ago. Sweetie, remember? Remember I was telling you about that thing and I had the idea for the thing?” And it’s like but they didn’t open the door to your point. We have always great ideas.
Phil: That happens constantly. I mean, if you invented an idea, there are so many doors. If you’ve invented something very cool there are so many doors you can take. You can go to the patent attorney down the street and maybe he’s so excited about it that he finances it himself. He’s like, “You know, I love this idea and I can help you and I’ll do work for free, but I want 30% of it.” And now, you don’t even have to deviate too much from your own life to get this done because what have you done? You just very simply went to – so you can just see these doors exist and people just don’t see them. They don’t understand that they’re there. It’s a very simple process and once you go through a door, it’s almost like a character, somebody said, “All manner of things once you take the first step will kind of fall into your path and speed you along your way.”
Hal: I love that. There’s another quote and I’m looking around for a thing. It’s somewhere in my office but it’s from Henry David Thoreau and I’ll paraphrase it. It’s something along the lines of, “When you fully commit to something, that’s when providence moves and forces beyond our understanding come to our aid to help us along the path to achieving our goal,” and I found it to be so. And then the simple one is, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” In other words, the more doors you open, the luckier you get. In fact, I’d say that’s even more accurate than saying the harder you work, the luckier you get, “The more doors you open, the luckier you get.” The more opportunities you pursue then you open the door and you’re, “Oh wow. I didn’t know behind this door is Phil Hellmuth and he is also looking for the same thing I’m looking for and, yeah, should become business partners,” or whatever. But most people they don’t do anything with it because fear of failure or just uncertainty or not knowing where to start which by the way, Phil, wouldn’t you agree with Google there’s no “I don’t know where to start” because you can Google it.
Phil: I agree, yeah, 100% with that. I mean, whatever dream you have, there’s a way to pursue it if you believe in it strongly enough. I mean, we all have dreams that we’re like, “Oh, I’d like to do that,” but then you think about it for a day and you’re like, “Ah, maybe that’s not what I want to do. I didn’t see the downside.” But when you see that dream it’s just so easy and so, yeah, for me to just be able to open millions of people’s eyes to the fact that they’re in the right place and the right time and the fact that there’s a door very close by for them to go through, it’s just huge. I mean, that’s why I wrote this book. Yes, all right. You always have to recognize your own self-interest. That’s important in life. I don’t like people that say, “I did it just for this or just for that.”
Phil: So, I feel like it might be my number one reason. It’s very close. Yes, I would like to make $10 million or $20 million. That’s great too but I would like to – it’s almost like I’ve been very lucky with money. It’s almost like I feel like I can honestly say that just to be able to help out millions of people out and have a profound influence on the world there at least some influence on millions of people. It’s just such a cool thing and I think the rewards for that are infinite whether you make money or not.
Hal: I agree. I agree, my friend, and I want to close this out with what really spoke to me and it was the chapter in the book titled Honor Your Code but specifically you talked about the reason that people don’t achieve the level of success that they are capable of or they fall apart on their path to achieving that success or like once they achieve it, they fall apart as soon as they get it. And you talk about that it was because they lack a sense of entitlement. So, people who fail or failed to reach their goals or give up on their goals or they fall apart as you put it, it’s because they lack a sense of entitlement. Now, entitlement is a word in our society that usually is used negatively to where you didn’t want to be entitled. In fact, I’ve read a lot of parenting books that talk about here’s how you raise your kids. Literally, there’s a book I’m reading right now called like How to Raise Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. So, can you please talk about what you mean by the fact that the problem with people is that they’re lacking a sense of entitlement?
Phil: That’s exactly right. So, what I would see is I would see people in poker tournaments with a chance to make millions of dollars, win world championships, make history and suddenly just fall apart. And I just couldn’t understand why they kept falling apart, falling apart, falling apart. And I did some research into this and looked into some of these guys and, yes, some people just do fall apart. That’s okay but it occurred to me that some of these guys were just not good people. And so, when faced with, “Do I have the right to continue to move forward to make millions of dollars?” Something would be like, “You know what, I really mistreated my kids, I really mistreated my wife. I’ve been a bad guy. I’ve been an alcoholic and done bad things or I’ve been addicted to drugs and I’ve stolen,” but whatever it is, these things kind of get in the way because you’re not really ready to receive the gift of winning big.
And so, yeah, it’s weird that entitlement has turned into a bad word. You need a healthy sense of entitlement if you want to do some great things in life. That’s just a fact and that’s a normal, natural thing. And so, I’m teaching people to honor their code. So, for me, now, this is not a religious thing and I’m not preaching to people but for me personally part of my code is to not cheat on my wife the way I was raised. And so, I’ve been married 29 years or whatever and I’ve never cheated on my wife. I’m proud of that. She tells me not to tell everybody all the time. Sorry, honey. But I’m proud of that and you become rich and famous 15 years ago or whatever and you have lots of opportunities along those lines. And so, I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve remained pure like that. And so, I tell people in the book whatever your sense of entitlement, whatever your code is, honor that code and the more you honor that code, the more entitled you feel to achieve great things in life.
Hal: Absolutely. And where that resonated with me so I think that even if I just want to get another side of that which is even if you haven’t done necessarily bad things, I think that we all have we’re missing entitlement just as human beings realizing that if you’re a human being, you are just as deserving and worthy and capable of achieving everything that you want in life as any other person on the planet, period. And, I know for me that was one thing that I realized when I got cancer was I have this belief that who am I to achieve all of this success? And even to the point where I have my car accident many years ago and then in a couple of other major adversities along the way and it was like I was waiting for the next one because I thought that’s what life has shown me that I deserve that I deserve to go through these extraordinary adversities and come out on top and use them to help other people. What’s the next one that’s coming my way?
And I didn’t realize that until I had cancer for probably a month or two and one of my closest friends, Matt, said, “Hey, do you remember you telling me that you felt like you are having trouble feeling that you deserve the success you had achieved and that unconsciously you were like waiting for the next major adversity in your life?” I’ve forgotten that, and he reminded me, and it really ringed true as something that I’ve felt it caused some major challenges, so I immediately created an affirmation that says, “I deserve to be healthy and happy and wealthy for now and for the rest of my life.” And then I love like you did this in the book.
Phil: Awesome. That is awesome.
Hal: Thank you. And I had to own that, and I’ll tell you because I had that subconscious belief I had to read it every day and override it, but I love what you did in the book. There are so much practical examples of you kind of talk about how you actually bullet-pointed it point by point all of the reasons like a list of reasons why you felt you were deserving of success and I love that list because I started modeling that, adding to my affirmations. I thought though for anybody reading they’re going to go, “Oh wow. Just by reading that, that chapter alone, it’s like I deserve success too just like Phil does. I deserve success.” And then you give the bullet points, so they literally can use that as an example to create their own list that they can read every day and really own their…
Phil: That’s right. I had to give myself reasons why I was allowed to be the greatest poker player of all time. So, I knew that the title of being the greatest poker player of all time is very closely tied to winning World Series bracelets and finally I was ready to break through and own that space and be the greatest and I just was stumbling a little bit and I’m like what is stumbling? What’s going on? And I sat back and that’s exactly right. I said, “All right. I deserve. Why do I deserve to be the greatest of all time? Okay. Why do I deserve that? Well, completely my morals and ethics are perfect. My honor is perfect. I’ve done a great job as a father,” and I actually wrote down the list.
And so, yeah, you’re right that we’re really talking about self-esteem. They’re not everybody. Right. And so, honoring my code and so I was able to check those things off. Okay. Never cheated on my wife. Okay. Good father. Okay. Great at this. Perfect morals. Perfect ethics. Great husband. Great father. And so, to get all of that stuff down and to write it down and say, “All right. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be the greatest of all time.” And so, then to eliminate that obstacle kind of gave me the entitlement to feel like, “All right. I could be the greatest. Why not me?” Why not me is a great word. Why not me?
Hal: Why not me? Exactly. Yeah, if another human being has or can accomplish something, why not me?
Phil: Yeah. And I’m living my life at a very high level doing everything right, why not me? And so, whatever people’s codes are, and I guess there are a lot of marriages where they’re open marriages and there are marriages where people are taught that there are guys that are taught that it’s okay to step out on their wife and I’m not judging any of them. Whatever your code is, you should be able to figure that out within 30 seconds because that’s an easy one. Everybody knows what their code is and then you have to make sure you honor it and the more you honor it, the more discipline you show to keep to your code, the more entitlement you receive.
Hal: Yeah. I love that. You’re absolutely right and I agree that the code or living along in alignment with your values is it’s the foundational guiding compass I think that can lead any of us to a life of fulfillment and abundance and everything else that we want. Well, Phil, where is the best place? Where can people find you? Where can they get the book, POSITIVITY? Let our listeners know.
Phil: Yeah. So, I was lucky that Amazon was interested and really wanted me and they said, “Hey, Phil, we can do all these things for you if you sign a year exclusive with us.”
Phil: So, the bad side of – yeah, it’s great. You’re saying nice. You’re like me, “Nice.” The bad side is so the book isn’t in any – you can only get it at Amazon, so the bad side is you can’t like be wondering to an airport and say, “That’s the book I want from Phil.” You actually have to make an effort to get it at Amazon, but I think it’s $8.88 to buy the computer. What am I thinking? The e-book version and then I had it at $16.88 but it’s gone down. Amazon lowers the price without talking to you. So, they lowered the price of the book a little bit, the book itself, but it fits in your back pocket and I’m super proud. I really think I felt for 15 years that I can help millions of people make more money, achieve more with their lives, do more and be happier.
Hal: Beautiful. Well, Phil, you’ve done a phenomenal job with this book and again, listeners, it’s #POSITIVITY and you can read it in an hour, so you cannot beat that. A lot of value in a short amount of time. Phil, thank you for being on the show, my friend. Really great 17 years later reconnect with you.
Phil: Full circle. I mean, I’m sitting at the same table that you and I sat at 16, 17 years ago. I love it. Thanks, Hal.
Hal: I might pull out my Cutco sample kit, fly out there and try again with your wife home.
Phil: We’ll buy 10 sets just to support you.
Hal: I love it, man. Well, hey, Phil, appreciate you and let me wrap this thing up with our Achieve Your Goals Podcast listeners. Thanks for tuning in to another episode. Hope you enjoyed hearing from Phil Hellmuth, the world’s greatest poker player, as much as I enjoyed our conversation and check out the book at Amazon #POSITIVITY: You Are Always in The Right Place at The Right Time and I love you and I will talk to you next week. Take care, everybody.
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