Tactical Traveler: S1:E7 | Press Forward with Neil Conlon

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Neil Conlon, a successful businessman with a military background, shares his journey from military service to entrepreneurship and his journey as a business coach. He discusses the impact of travel on his mindset and the importance of mental fitness for veterans. Neil also discusses the correlation between mental fortitude and purpose-driven action, emphasizing the heart’s role in driving resilience. He shares his perspective on adopting a warrior mindset, emphasizing adaptability and resilience. The episode also discusses the challenges veterans face when transitioning from military to civilian environments, the impact of identity shift, and the importance of creating safe spaces for men to discuss challenges and seek guidance.

Neil shares his experience coaching veterans and high-performing individuals, highlighting the importance of creating safe spaces for men to discuss challenges and seek guidance. The episode concludes with a reflection on personal growth, resilience, and adaptation, urging listeners to embrace vulnerability as a pathway to strength and connection.

Highlights:

{02:20} Global Travel and Business Coaching

{12:40} Building Mental Fitness

{24:45} Transitional challenges

{35:20 Practical Tips for Success

{51:00} Reshuffling the deck

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Neil Conlon Bio:

Neal Conlon is the founder and CEO of Press Forward, a high-performance consulting firm that helps executives, sales leaders, marketers, and founders achieve their goals and grow their businesses. He has over 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, and leadership roles, working with early-stage, well-funded, and publicly traded companies across various industries.

Neal’s mission is to enhance, empower, and create spaces for growth for leaders, using frameworks, accountability, and workshops that improve mental fitness, metaphysics, resilience, and emotional selling. He also serves as a board member and a fractional chief revenue officer to several startups, providing strategic guidance and support. Neal is a veteran, a father, an optimist, and a master connector who values trust, awareness, and digital, cultural, and physical transformation. He is also training for an Iron Man 140.6 in 2023.

Links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/nealconlon

https://www.nealconlon.com 

https://tacticaltravelerclub.com

Sponsored Links:

https://therootbrands.com/product/zero-in

https://newulife.com/hk/en 

https://trufinco.com 

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John

Hey, everybody. Welcome to the tactical traveler. I am back at you with another great episode and an even better guest today. I have a Neil Conlon with me. Did I say it right? I messed that up. How do you say it again?

Neil

It’s all. It’s all good, Conlin.

John

Conlin…  Dang it, I’m usually pretty good at things, and I am excited to interview you today. We have a common background as veterans; you’re in a great group with me, the vet tribe, and your successful businessman who’s traveled worldwide. I’m excited to have you on the show because you can bring great value to all the veterans and people listening to this podcast today. How’s your day been going, man?

Neil

Good. Man, I’m in Chicago today. Now that the masks have come off, I’m back on the road, and I appreciate you and our ability to do this. We’ve been trying to do this podcast for a bit now, and I’m excited to dig in with you.

John

Cool, man. Now listen, I said. How’s your day going? You said you’re in Chicago. That does not sound like a good day. I’m from that neck of the woods.

Neil

Right. No, that’s very fair. Very fair. No, I am having a great day. It’s feels good. One of my most comfortable places in life is traveling around — traveling. 

2020 was hard for me in the sense that I had to slow down much of my travel level. Now that we’re kind of opening back up, it feels really good to be back on the road. I’m in a place that I like. I mean, I like Chicago overall as a good place to visit. So, it feels good, and now we’re doing a podcast.

John

Yeah, yeah, yeah. What are you doing up in Chicago?

Neil

You know, after. Being part of many different businesses and running in different roles, I got to a place about two or three years ago where I felt drawn to helping small and medium-sized businesses. When you’ve run big sales organizations and large sales and marketing machines, the way that I have, there’s so much you learn that I felt the responsibility to be able to go to a small business and explain to them these little tricks that you don’t learn in the small business on how to improve your revenue and how to improve your sales and stuff like that and so on top of a bunch of other entrepreneurial stuff that I do, I’m also a business coach.

John

Oh. Nice.

Neil

I’ve been committed to… If someone commits to my business coaching, I’m like, let’s get me on a plane and let me come out and meet you. Let me spend time in your business. Let’s see where we are. Can we help? Let’s see how we can swing the door back and ensure that whatever hits people took in their business in 7/20; they can recuperate. You know, in 2021 and beyond, so I’m here with coaching clients and some customers.

John

Oh, that’s nice. Before COVID, corporate and leisure travelers were a nightmare for everybody. But on average, how many trips are you taking a year where you’re helping clients or leisure? Or, I mean, if you’re a business owner? They’re all “business trips,” but we’ll save that for later in the show.

Neil

Right, 2018. I was on an airplane for 300,000 miles.

John

Nice.

Neil

In 2019, I traveled 400,000 miles on a plane. That’s about a dozen trips around the planet per year, which is what I would do for almost the whole year; I’ve already been doing global travel for both years.

John

Right.

Neil

Well, domestic travel preceded them. But those two years were committed to every Monday morning. For the most part, I’d go home. My home base is New York City. I’d go into my office, meet with my executive team, learn whatever we were working on for the week, and most of the time, I’d be headed to the airport by lunchtime or right after lunchtime. 

I’d be on planes. The whole week, planes, helicopters, boats, wherever, and this was global and domestic, speaking on stages or going and seeing clients and customers and then usually trying to make it home by dinner on Friday because of my commitment to my daughter to my ten-year-old daughter was I’ll be home by dinner on Friday. And that included trips to Japan, India, and worldwide. I try to keep them to a four or five-day minimum—more than that would be in a place for ten or 12 days. But I’ve done my fair share of the mileage.

John

Right, right. Yeah. I mean, That’s a huge amount of mileage.

Now. You know, take me through your journey. Have you always been a traveler? Is this something that developed over time out of necessity from being a coach? Talk to me a little bit about that journey process.

Neil

I appreciate that, you know, the one thing that’s funny about traveling and going places. Going different places, going places different from what we’re used to, gives us a different level of perspective or awareness, and the first time I went on an airplane, I was like, I don’t know, 12… My grandmother took me to Ireland.

John

Oh, that’s a good first trip.

Neil

First, the airplane trick was like my grandparents are immigrants. They all came either on a boat or a plane from Ireland, and my one grandmother took me back for a summer. My grandparents had played a pivotal role in me growing up, and there was constant, you know, throwing the kids in the car and going all up and down the East Coast to different states and different things. 

And I got kind of a bug at a very young age about understanding that I like to go to different places and experience different things, and that carried over into my time in the Marines, where even in peacekeeping times pre-9/11, I had done a…  We called them a MEW, but a couple thousand Marines go on an aircraft carrier clash pipe ship and then spend a bunch of time in the Mediterranean. I lived in Okinawa, Japan, as a marine.

Then, when I got out of the military and moved back to New York, I was in corporate roles when there was an opportunity for people to go overseas because we worked with a lot of overseas resources; I already had the experience of knowing what it’s like to work with people in different cultures and different time zones. You know, all that stuff that you learn from travel. And as I’ve grown then, I grew into the startup space, 

John

Right.

Neil

Then, I decided to become a speaker and learned how to get paid for speaking events. And. And the next thing you know, you know. I’m running around the planet speaking in India and London and speaking all of the United States, and at one point in that mix of 2018-2019, I was on a speaker circuit and doing four cities a week. And it was literally like it was. I would wake up in some hotels, have weird deja vu, and not even remember what city I was in.

John

Oh jeez.

Neil

It would be like getting on a plane in New York on Monday morning, flying to Boston to speak at a conference on Tuesday morning, going to the airport, and flying to Chicago. Speak the next morning, go to the airport, and fly to Boulder, CO, or Colorado Springs. Speak. Get on the airplane again, fly to Dallas, speak, and then be back home. Friday.

John

Right.

Neil

And you wouldn’t know whether you’re coming and going sometimes. It’s just amazing, amazing perspective and awareness. You learn how to live with less, you learn how to, you know, you learn how to gratitude. I would travel so much. I had trained myself just to appreciate. You know the opportunity that I had. 

So, it will be OK when my flight is canceled or I get stuck in the airport; you just learned it will be OK.

John

Yeah. Let me ask you this. You may not have even thought it through, but how much of what you do now results from your grandma taking you to Ireland for a summer?

Neil

Oh it, it is. Two things come up for me there is … 

One, you know, you don’t really unless you look back. Retrospectively, at the influence you have at such a young age, you don’t realize how much impact those years have when you’re an adult. That was a huge impact. 

My grandparents taught me at a very young age that my parents divorced when I was young, and my grandparents stepped in and were amazing. They always liked to overcompensate a little bit and said to me repeatedly. Neil, you can do anything that you apply yourself to; you can do anything and accomplish anything in this world as long as you. Go for it.

And it’s funny because, like, what? They didn’t tell me, Neil, that you must follow the rules, follow the process, and do what everyone else says. They told me I could do anything I wanted if I focused on it. 

And that’s the life that I’ve carved out: a life where …  how do you go from … I’m a military veteran in the corporate world into startups and business coaching, and I’ve never, ever been in a college class.

John

Right.

Neil

You know, like I have. I have a coach—a CEO of a $400 million year company.

I’ve never been to college, but I have the mindset, authority, and background to do that. Much of that has come from my grandparents and my perspective from all this travel I’ve had.

John

Yeah. No, I mean, that’s definitely. An important part there, you know, and even a lot of people don’t get it, but just the mere fact of being in the military makes you into a person they can walk in that authority that has been in really crazy situations. 

So, even like the most dirt-bagged soldiers. You can handle stress and conflict, and you know everything. I think you know a lot better, and it puts them in a position where they could. They look from the outside and coach in a way; if their hearts are set on that kind of thing where they can say, is it that bad? 

Let’s think about this for a minute. You know, and they can bring some good outside perspective. I mean, even if they were just eating crayons for six years.

Neil

Right, right. Well. I have leaned in on this new term, which I’ve started hearing recently. This idea of. Mental fitness. Right. And I think it’s interesting because we live in this age where you. We will spend, you know, people will sign up for a gym, right? We’ll spend hundreds of dollars a month on a gym. We’ll spend 50 to $100 a month on supplements and protein drinks and whatever else, probably a lot more than that. And we’ll spend all this money on clothes because we all want to look a certain way, right? And yet, you know, you can do all those things.

John

Come on.

Neil

Then, something like COVID does not happen, somebody loses their job, breaks up a relationship, or something happens financially. You spent all that money on yourself and are no stronger. You’re just going to go off the rails.

John

Right, right.

Neil

And I think that is one of the things people don’t recognize. Is that when you, I mean, for veterans? Right. Your mental fitness. Is so that the muscles of your mind are so much stronger than the average person, and that’s the way that I’ve started to look at, you know, mindset is like if you feel like you can’t do something or you feel like you’re not capable of something. It’s just the fact that the muscle is a muscle that just hasn’t been flexed in a while or a muscle that hasn’t been developed yet.

John

Right.

Neil

I have built a career by identifying the weak muscle in your mind or business and practicing a consistent routine. That will strengthen that muscle, and we can learn from it. And then, once we know how the mechanics of the muscle work, you can put it in place.

John

Yeah. And that, you know, it’s so important. You know, especially from a veteran or military perspective about mental fitness. I don’t know if they say it in the Marine Corps, but they always say it in the Army. Your body will quit long before your mind will… if you don’t let your mind quit. 

The idea is that we can endure so much more than we think. But it’s usually that we, like you said, haven’t just exercised it. So, we quit before we ever had to.

Neil

Right. I appreciate that you just said that. Here’s an interesting thing I learned a few years ago: our bodies operate, you know, off electricity, right? We produce energy. I don’t know the exact words; I’m not the savviest with my words sometimes, but the amount of electricity our heart produces is 33% more than our brain’s. 

Hmm, right. 

And that’s where the relationship is between. What? Your body, you know it. It’s like your body will go to a certain point, right? But your mind can then make the body go into autopilot. Right? 

And that’s why, like in the military, how, you know, military people can be physically fit and then train mentally to go longer distances, swim further, climb, or do whatever they have to do. But what about the driving mechanism behind that, right, like this level of service or purpose, wherever you want to call it? The actions that military veterans take on come from the heart. 

It’s great to say that because it sounds cool and fun, but knowing that the heart produces 33% more electricity than the mind does when you can’t, when your body’s ready to quit, and when your mind’s ready to quit? You can go to a place of like. I’m doing this for my family. I’m doing this for my legacy. I’m doing this for my kids. I’m doing this for me.

John

Yeah.

Neil

The heart will then push you further. Yeah, yeah.

John

Just because we’re on this topic of mindset, if somebody’s listening today and maybe they don’t have the privilege or the advantage of coming out of a military background, I have a mixed crowd that listens.

What are your top one or two books that they could pick up on mine?

Neil

I think anything by anything. David Goggins. Anything like God gets. Because he is such an extremist that even a couple sentences from that man, that man’s mouth implemented in your life, could change some things. I think the other thing is I think anything by Brené Brown.

John

Yeah, man, she is good in a very, very, very different way.

Neil

Right, right. And I think we’re talking a little bit about mindset and perspective, and one of the most important things is to recognize that this level of mindset comes from like. I say it like this. 

People often come to me because I have this warrior mindset. I think many people will misinterpret because I’m this tattooed, bearded military veteran guy who’s very forward, lean in, conscious, and aware that that’s what people need to subscribe to adopt this warrior mindset. 

I don’t think that’s true; people just need to adapt, overcome, and step into this warrior mindset, whatever that is for you. There are so many different versions of it. You know what? While David Goggins runs 200 miles in the desert. You know, he’s doing it in three days or whatever craziness.

John

Right.

Neil

I think somebody like Brené Brown is a warrior in her own right. She operates.

John

Her material – man is good.

So, for most military guys, we get the Goggins stuff pretty easily, right? Many of our brothers and sisters probably need to spend more time with Brené Brown to balance out that mindset because she talks up.

Neil

Completely.

John

She talks more; you know a lot about vulnerability. There’s strength in being vulnerable, and we both come from a community where you never let them see you bleed, right? She attacks that mentality and shows some deficiencies in it. I have found her stuff to be very challenging for me.

Neil

I completely agree with you. It took me, you know, I’ll be super open and vulnerable. I mean, I’m in a place where I feel comfortable to say that right in the military. One of the most amazing things about the military is that for whatever period you serve, even on a day where you feel like ****, even on a day where you’re hungover because you drank too much with your buddies last night, they’re the ones you are reminded of by the uniform you wear that you serve in this capacity.

John

Right.

Neil

Two, somebody on that day will tell you that you are the best of the best of the best of the best of the best of the best of the best of the best, no matter what. There is a sign, flag, or something like you have a purpose everywhere you go. It is reinforced over and over and over again.

And then when you get out. In the military, it just goes away.

John

It does.

Neil

It goes away, and then, you know, it’s gotten a lot better, but it takes us so long to unpack that stuff. Then you pick up a book, like something Brené Brown would write, and you start hearing words like boundaries, surrender, and vulnerability. And these are all things that were to military folks were, you know, dirty words to us.

John

Dirty words.

Yeah. I don’t remember if I showed it on the podcast, but it was a very rude awakening for me when I got out. I did not serve during wartime. I was just after Desert Storm and got out before 9/11. And I remember getting out, and I had done airborne. School Ranger School. Harris Halt School. 

So, you know, I was doing a lot of that high-speed stuff. And you know, when they do, I don’t know what the Marine Corps calls it, but they used to call it a capping in the army, which was your separation process. They’re like, oh man, your resume will look so great.

People are going to want to hire you left and right. You know, it will be, and you’ll have no problems. Then, I did my resume for my first job; the guy was looking at my resume. And he goes. What forest did you serve in? Because I had army Ranger. In there. At that moment, I realized I had been lied to from enlistment to ETS. It’s like, OK, this guy has no clue. I was not in any forest.

And that separation is … But I mean, now you look at it, I don’t know how long you served. I’ve been short-stent, got out, and went to college. But you look at a guy who spent 10/15/20 years serving. He only really, in his entire adult life, has lived one. Hey. Then, to get out, he has to change who he is fundamentally. You look, so I worked for special forces for 20 years, right? 

And I watched these guys who were top one percenters and everything they did. And then they would get out, and their choice was to do the same thing you did in the army. But now, as a contractor, unless you’re in 18 Delta.

Neil

Right. Right. I’m currently coaching A master Sergeant who just got out of the Marines after being in for 24 years and a commanding general who just got out after 20 years. And you know the crazy and amazing thing I’ve learned, and I feel grateful and blessed to experience this right. I have this spectrum of coaching clients.

I also run a Men’s accountability group, which is just a place for men to be held accountable for things that they’re working on and a place for them to unpack a little bit. Because we’re so busy being the head of the household or running our businesses and doing all these things, sometimes we just need a place to vent.

John

Yes.

Neil

And feel safe enough to be like I don’t know what to do next. And in these groups, I have everything from a man who. He works in his car, and he lives in his car. He works in his car to live close enough to see his daughter daily, up to CEOs and business owners of big companies. And the amazing thing. 

And so wild is the commanding general, the master Sergeant, the company’s CEO, or the guy living in his car. We all experience the same problems. We all feel some uncertainty, lack self-worth, and are not good enough to do what we said we would do. In the military the military serves an amazing purpose and does amazing things that we are responsible for, which has many positives. 

The crazy thing is that I’ll just mention the master, Sergeant. For anyone who doesn’t know, he is a master sergeant. I mean, you’re basically at the top of the food chain in the military. You can automatically have this amazing respect for the most part, and you’ve been doing the same thing repeatedly—for years. And then it ends.

Talk about the identity crisis, right?

Neil

Exactly. Exactly. You immediately come out of this place, where you ate at the same restaurant for 24 years of your life, and every single day, the food was the same. And it was paid for—someone paid for it for you. You just had to walk in and do the work. And then all of a sudden, it goes away. It’s just not the same anymore.

So, it’s been an amazing journey to share with men like this and other high-performing men and men who want to be high performers and explain to them that they are not alone and feel that they’re—maybe feeling for the first time. They like to surrender and need some boundaries in their lives. It’s like they need some vulnerability. Like they need to unpack some **** in their… They may feel it for the first time but are not alone.

John

For sure. Now, what year did you get out?

Neil

I served from ‘96 through early 2003.

John

OK, so you were a part of the invasion of Afghanistan as a marine. So, you did, what, five years? Five years? Eight years?

Neil

Yeah, it’s like six and change or something like that. I got to experience the Marine Corps in both pre-peacekeeping and non-peacekeeping times. I got to see what it was like to do humanitarian work worldwide.

Then, we get to see what we operate like, doing what we’re meant to do best.

John

Yeah. So, what do you think was your biggest struggle when transitioning from the core to civilian life? What was that like? What was the biggest transitional challenge for you?

Neil

That’s a great question, and I’m glad you’re asking it. You know, I think the biggest challenge in the transition… What I’ve learned over time is that I don’t care whether you serve for two, four, ten, or twenty years; the amount of skills the military can impart to people is amazing. And the leadership, the discipline, the consistency, the resilience—all of these things, right, these leadership principles.

The hardest part is to be able to extrapolate the skill and transition it into words and language that can be accepted into the corporate or business world.

John

I don’t know if you have ever seen them, but there are 30 memes, all like office memes. And military guys have gotten out, and now we’re in a corporate setting. One of them was that it had these two guys sitting there, and the military version was Bob. 

That is the stupidest damn thing I’ve ever heard in my life. You are robbing the oxygen from plants with your stupidity, right? And then it says the corporate version is… Bob, I’m not sure if that’s the best way we should approach this, and it always cracks me up because you’re just sitting there and you, you know, upper-echelon meetings, right? Even as you.

Neil

Right.

John

Hunger person in the military. Often, you’re either the radio guy, the clerk, or the driver for the commander. And so you get pulled into these meetings, and you’re the most. Wazoo. Stupid things, and in the military, people just like to call that stuff out like, that is the most foolish thing I’ve ever heard in my life. What planet did you come from? And then when you get into a civilian, you know, a civilian populace, you cannot be that direct. You cannot be that confronting.

Neil

Yeah.

John

It is a huge transitional challenge for a lot of people.

Neil

Yeah. And I think it is, you know. I like the fact that you said what you just said, right? The thing that was coming up for me to share with you was… You know, I think the military… No matter what your job is in the military, at a minimum, it will ensure you have all the skills and resources to accomplish that task, right? That is the bare minimum. 

I don’t care whether you’re driving a truck or up to special forces. You’ll have the minimum requirements and know something that our military does well.

I’ve experienced this: if you were a platoon commander or a platoon Sergeant at this type of unit at this type of place, you went to another, you went to the other coast, and you stepped into the same role. It’s the same thing. We’re great at scale.

And you know, I was out of the military for five or six years, and I got a big corporate job. I reported directly to the global CEO of a company with 16,000 employees globally, hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe even close to a billion dollars in their portfolio. I’ll never forget that I was interviewed. 

I got the interview, and the recruiter who got the recruiter who got me the interview sent me the cover of a business magazine with the guy I was going to interview for on the cover of the magazine. And I was like, this is. Whoa, like this, guys, this is the guy, right? And you know, long story short, I interviewed and, you know, worked for that company for a couple of years. 

It was so funny because my boss would go and speak at a non-profit or philanthropic event or some charity ball, and everybody would be like, oh my God, he’s the most well-known blanky person, a blankety this, a blanky that, and we don’t see. Is that behind the fact that this person had a personal driver, three assistants, a chief of staff, and a speechwriter, and you don’t realize it takes so much in the civilian world?

John

Right.

Neil

It takes so much more effort and resources to accomplish the things people try to accomplish when they’re in the military when they’ve been taught the necessities to survive, and when they have that sense of purpose. You just move differently.

John

Yeah. Now, that’s for sure. One of the things that has always struck me is that we’re the military regardless of what branch we’re in. And even if you didn’t serve and you’re in the Air Force, for example, there’s always this leadership component that corporations look for. I don’t know about you, but I always used to laugh. Half the stuff we pulled off was just by pure blind luck. 

It was not because we were this great leadership institution; we had the grit and the stubbornness to get it done. And then when you get into the civilian sector, you start to, you start to look back, and you’re like maybe we work with That jacked up, and I’ve always just found that comical when I’m in corporate settings, and I’m like has nobody ever taught you guys how to do a backward plan? Do you guys not understand that you must request supplies before running an op? This is such common-sense stuff to a military guy, but when you’re in it. You’re just laughing. 

But you’re like, oh my God, I can’t believe that stuff worked. Do you? Do you find that as well? I mean, because you’re consulting with all these big CEOs and doing this. I mean, tell me about that experience.

Neil

I like this question because I think the most interesting thing is what you’re talking about, right? I mean, the military Marines, we would call them. I don’t know what the acronym SMEAC stands for. The right situation, mission execution, admin command, and control.

John

Yep.

Neil

And it just gets. It is ingrained in us to think that way because lives are potentially on the line. And we’re in this very interesting time, I think, where what we consider resources is so different, right? 

There are people; I mean, I joke around people. A man can now understand how to start a fire in today’s environment. It is equally as important as understanding cryptocurrency.

Because they’re both just forms of currency, we don’t. The power grid might go off tomorrow. We’ve already experienced that. That’s something that might happen. And if you need it, I laugh at it and don’t mind being open. I laugh at young men who can barely change a light bulb, let alone start a fire.

John

Right, yeah.

Neil

You know, but I also feel bad for men out there who are working a nine-to-five job and trying to figure out their finances and being like, I don’t know, several months ago, all you had to do was buy like $200 worth of Bitcoin, and you could have made $25,000. You just had to be paying it, you.

John

Right.

Neil

I just had to pay attention to it, right? So, I’m not saying you need to be super focused on these things, but we are the way we are. How we leverage resources is changing, and the way that so. So, I think it’s very important when working with these business owners’ people because of our ego, our mindsets, and all these other things. It will be like I have to sell or market this thing this way, or it won’t work, and that’s not true.

John

Yeah.

Neil

And I just, I mean, I posted a testimonial on social media about one of my coaching clients who went from being in a really poor place—a poor mindset—to doing $80,000 in commissions in 1/4 and having a plan to take it to somewhere between $160 and $200,000 by the next quarter.

We did that by changing her morning routine. All I did was change her morning routine and work effortlessly with her to change it so that her mindset was in a place where she could not be distracted by the things around her and could focus on what she was trying to do. And then she built a pipeline.

John

Yeah. That pipeline is so important, especially in sales or Commissions. If you’re distracted and not able to keep that pipeline full, the truth is that the commissions dry up.

Neil

Well, and the other thing is I’d look at every one. They are all animals. And what I mean by that is that we can all Pavlov dog ourselves. And what I mean by this train is to perform a certain way, right? I was with one of my coaching clients this morning, and they were talking about how clients are uncomfortable with the service because of vaccines and masks and stuff like that and how things are going a certain way with certain customers.

I said to say all this story stuff as a response and solution. Like all money, I said we have this capacity, which gives us more capacity to do something with time. The foundation of a piece of my business coaching is the only thing money. The only currency we have is time. And it’s the only currency we have. The only thing that money does is it affords us the space to buy—more time to do more things. What I mean by that is if you have to mow your lawn every Saturday, and it takes you two or three hours to do it, and you don’t want to waste that time, what do you do? You pay someone to do it so you can get that time back.

And so, you could spend the time listening to people complain about your services or complain about your business or, you know, give you **** for it. I told my client this morning. Suppose you had 15 new clients lining up at the door trying to get your service right now. Would you care about the two or three who are complaining about it? And the answer was no. And I said Well, which is a better use of your time, go after new clients or listen to the ones already complaining. And that’s because of the capacity and mindset around being able to focus on people aligned with your business versus people energetically just spending and wasting your time.

John

Yeah. Yeah. And I think, especially in the context of a sales slash commission-driven business model, whatever that is, the easier solution is always just to bring in more volume. I mean, you’ve got to. If there are reoccurring issues, you have to address them. And we’ve heard this before. I mean from a wealth of different people. Money does not make somebody good or bad; it exposes whether they’re good or bad. 

Money doesn’t help or hurt a company in the context of its issues. It exposes those issues, and when you look at the process you walk that person through, you can focus on attracting the ideal customers and getting away from the negativity. Again, money wasn’t the solution, but it sure does help us become aware of what’s important. Those people like you can find people complaining about everything.

Neil

Right, right. Exactly. And it all comes down to the perspective and the awareness you build from that experience.

John

Yeah, yeah. That’s good, man. Now, how many? How many coaching clients do you have? How many are you taking? Tell me a little about that and what it looks like.

Neil

Yeah, so I have a couple of different versions of the programs. There’s one-on-one business coaching. There is an accountability program for both women’s groups and men’s groups; I feel drawn to separate into the two groups because I think it’s just a different conversation. 

I run these accountability groups throughout the week, and then I run a physical, in-person retreat program where there’s a three-day retreat once a month. I’ve run them throughout COVID for the past couple of years. And in total, I think I’ve got… It’s a mix of one-on-one business coaching and one-on-one coaching accountability groups in the retreat program. There are more than a couple hundred people in the groups. You know, we meet weekly.

It’s a place for men and women to check in and have someone poke a hole in the thing getting in their way and see if it exists. And then, you know, as travel has started opening up again, travel to businesses and help them develop smart solutions and smart ways to create more revenue in 2021. 

Because the way people buy things has started to change, and the process they think about when making purchases has changed. The other big thing that I’m starting to become more and more focused on is that by the end of 2021, Amazon will own 40% of the e-commerce industry in the United States, and I think that’s a huge thing for people to be conscious of and aware of.

When something goes wrong, something has to be edited, or there has to be a change in the markets, you won’t see what’s coming if you’re not paying attention. So, I’ve been building a plan to ensure that companies are aware of that and have products and services in place to continue to scale their revenue while not being aware that Amazon is taking over almost everything.

John

Everything, man, they’re doing TV now.

I mean, they just bought out a major franchise. They’ve got groceries, they’ve got. I mean, dude, that is, it’s a monopoly.

The monopoly of convenience. But you know they are gobbling up tons of smaller entities and folding them into their process. And it has changed the way we shop. It’s changed the way we think about the acquisition of products and services, and I mean Amazon’s, even in the context of the show, is even dipping their toes into an online travel agency, an OTA like, you know, an OTA like Expedia where they would do discounted prices for their prime members. I mean, they’re in everything.

Neil

Yeah. And I would say for anyone listening, what I think is amazing, something I’m coming across, though, is post-2020; I have a pulse on the markets because of my clients and my access to people and these little things. … Like I’ll say it like this: if you want soldiers, coffee, or you want Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, or you want cake cups. You know, Amazon is the perfect place to go for those things, but what it’s also done is created an amazing premium marketplace that people like … You know, small batch things, and you know, Small-batch premium coffees and small batch premium alcohol and, you know, experiences, especially post-2020, if you’re running a business and customer service has become so important, providing a solid experience is a masterful way to do an amazing thing.

The other day, I ordered coffee from somebody in one of my ventral primeur Facebook groups. And, you know, the coffee showed up. It included little gifts and trinkets, including a handwritten note from the guy. This customer experience was an opportunity because Amazon could not compete with that premium service. And so, I’ve been sharing it with many of my friends.

John

Right.

Neil

My customer base, like you, is wondering about keeping your clients or how you do not get distracted by this. I’m like, you must focus on customer service, customer support, and the experience.

John

Right. Yeah, it’s kind of like that. You know, that old cliche? 

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

If you applied that to your customer service idea or vision for your department, you would say the same thing.

Neil

Yeah, absolutely.

John

Was that José, by the way?

Neil

Yeah, José.

John

Yeah, I see him popping in there and doing his coffee thing. And I’m like, oh, man, cool. And I’m a total coffee junkie. So, I thought it would be Greg or José, OK? Which one is that?

Neil

Yeah, I mean, again, I am somebody. I try to support small businesses in any way I can. I want the mom-and-pop coffee shop. I want to use the little bakery and the butcher. Everybody, right? But living in New York, it’s not that easy to do that because there are a lot of bigger businesses.

You know it is such, it was. It is such an amazing customer experience to get that level of service, to where you’re getting a handwritten note. It’s coming. You know it is. It was immediately. It was boxed up once the order went through, and all the little bits and pieces, you know, that level of delight. I’ve heard people say this before, and I agree with it. Like, there’s more room in your customer’s mailbox than there is. In their inbox.

John

Right.

Neil

If you can send somebody something, I’ll just share one other thing that I think is useful in that, you know, one of my good friends. I just wrote a book called Rise and Shine, and I bought ten copies of the book. I’m reading the book now. It’s a great book. It’s about men’s masculinity in the modern day. I wrote notes. And I sent it to nine other men. 

In it, I said if you find this book from my friend Beau to be as helpful and guiding as I am, I hope you will buy five copies of it and share it with five men in your universe. I’m trying to support these small businesses and early-stage authors, but also because of the impact of that right. The impact of that is amazing. 

And I think that one thing that Amazon will create now is these small-batch businesses, this customer service, this attention to detail, honoring the chain and keeping it going. This mental fitness or this intentional Ness to be like, I’m sending you this book one because I care about you, two because I think it’ll help you, and three because if you agree with me on any of those things, you should do the same thing. It’s going to be a powerful transition.

John

Right.

Neil

I’m excited for.

John

Yeah, that’s cool, man. That’s a good sport, too. So, what do? You. Well, how well I want to do, too. 

I recently read an article about how COVID-19 has changed fundamentally. The lack of a better language destroyed New York City—not on a health level but on a financial level. Companies saw that their productivity didn’t drop much as people began teleworking. 

The article discusses how New York City has become almost a ghost town. Now that we’re kind of pulling out on the other side of that. Is that when New York City is still like, do you see that as a future reality that these companies are going to end up fleeing New York because, you know, obviously it’s far more expensive to be in New York than, let’s say, Florida? 

Talk to me about that experience, and then I’ll ask you a different question.

Neil

Amish. Yeah, I think it’s a great question. You know, the way that I look at all of these things is. I use a term. I call this the reshuffling of the deck, and what I mean by that is if you do remember when the Kindle came out. When the Kindle first came out, they were like it was the end of books for everyone. No book is ever, ever going to live ever again.

John

That’s good.

Neil

And everybody got a Kindle, and then everybody who had the most people get a Kindle was like, I don’t. Is this that much? And then they realized that they could read the news.

I am off a Kindle because you can download your Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, or whatever it is, and read the news in black and white because it is as black and white as the newspaper. Then, people realized it felt better to touch paper when reading about mindset or fiction. Right. And then and then everybody got a Kindle and got books, right? Barnes, Barnes and Noble couldn’t compete with that. 

So they lost a lot of bookstores. But now all these little artists and bookshops have popped up again.

John

No, it does.

Neil

That took a couple of years. Right. The deck of cards kind of reshuffles itself.

Right. And, as that pertains directly to your question about COVID, New York, and other cities like technology, technology is doing this amazing thing now. Where is it? These big cities as somebody who has lived in big cities. They’re not the healthiest thing in the world for us, right? 

We become a station; we become stationary. We don’t eat enough of the right foods. We don’t get enough travel in. We don’t get enough perspective. We don’t get enough awareness. We start to get provincial. Almost. And I think that with COVID, COVID sent many people, you know, back into the back, into the woods, back into the country, and back into nature and all these different things. 

And so I think we will go through this period. It’s going to take us equally as long. It’s going to take a year and a year and a half for the deck to reshuffle itself. But we will find different ways to figure out what that looks like. I mean, like. Nobody. The funny thing about it, I mean, is that there’s a brand tied to every city, right? Every city is a brand, you know, you go to Florida for the beach, New York for the bagels, or whatever the thing is, right, the pizza, right? Everything’s a brand. 

But if you were to talk about New York City and say, hey, we’re going to take about 5 miles of an island, shove 9 million people into it, make it super expensive to live, make it congested, nobody would want to live there if you described it like that.

You know, but you could do the same thing about Tulsa, Oklahoma? So, I think we will reshuffle the deck and see what happens.

John

Yeah, interesting. So, what’s coming up next for you? You have had many experiences, businesses, and all this stuff. What’s next?

Neil

Great. I will just question, you know, right now. I’m focused on this giving back. Through my knowledge and experience, I recognize that. To have done the things that I’ve done in such a short period. That took a lot of. Effort, work, whatever you want to call it, and I’m committed to empowering people as much as possible. I’m also right. I’m working on the book Step Back and Kneel, for which we’ll have many tips, tools, and resources. 

And the book is about. Discernment. There have been many decisions that I’ve made in my life that, at the time, I thought. Was it a bad thing, or I made a bad choice or a bad decision? And if I can share anything with people, that is valuable. It comes down to the fact that some of those choices will lead you to the amazing things on your side. And there is no bad thing or good thing in this life. But what we’re learning constantly is discernment. 

So, I’m working on the book, coaching, and retreat program, and then, you know, actively investing and advising shareholders in a handful of companies.

John

Then. You do not stop.

Neil

No, that’s that. That is true.

John

It’s like, holy cow, man. Hey. Man, so what’s your next vacation?

Neil

There are vacations.

John

Yeah, there should be.

Neil

Yeah, no, I appreciate it. This is a good question. The next vacation? Well, the next travel spot will be, uh, I’ve got some travel coming up. I will see some guys I serve in the military in Florida in a couple of weeks. I’m also big into hiking. 

We’ll also be doing some stuff in California’s mountains towards the end of the summer.

John

Oh cool.

Deal, ma’am. So, if somebody would be interested in reaching out to you or contacting you for coaching, what would be the best way for them to get a hold of you and to hold? From this, this immense pool of knowledge that you have.

Neil

Yeah, I appreciate that statement and UM. I’m on all the social media channels. It’s at I am Neal Conlin NEAL CONLON, my website, www.nealconlon.com. I’m usually answering most of my DMS across channels, and feel free to reach out. If nothing else, I will promise to show up meaningfully for a conversation and support the person in any way they can.

John

Oh man, that’s great, dude. That’s great. Well, it has been a real privilege talking with you. I’ve loved the conversation today. I appreciate your taking time out of your business schedule and away from the beautiful city of Chicago to spend some time with me, and I look forward to watching your journey and seeing what’s next with you.

Neil

Thanks, man. I appreciate you taking the time to do this podcast. It ran long but was great.

John

Good man. Thanks a lot. We’ll talk to you soon.

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