Tony Stubblebine | Ruthless Meditation (Episode 446)

Meditation is for doers who seek personal top performance — from entrepreneurs to professional athletes like Kobe Bryant.

“If you hand a top performer a potential advantage, they’re going to try it.” -Tony Stubblebine

The Cheat Sheet:

  • What benefits will life coaching offer the high-performing person vs. the low-performing person? (02:30)
  • Meditation is more than a spiritual haven — it’s a mental strength exercise for people from hedge fund managers to professional athletes. (11:13)
  • Three abilities are enhanced by meditation: awareness of your thoughts and emotions, control over your focus, and calm. (17:26)
  • When meditating for mental strength, why will someone with a distracted, wandering mind get more out of the experience than someone who is too blissful and focused? (18:30)
  • Tony guides us through a simple meditation. (39:55)
  • And so much more…

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There’s one universal strength building exercise that affects every
performance goal ranging from business to sports to relationships: meditation. You might think meditation is just mumbo jumbo introspection masquerading as naptime for hippies and yoga instructors, but ask the tuned-in athlete, hedge fund manager, soldier, or Shaolin monk about it and you might be surprised at the answer.

In episode 446 of The Art of Charm, we talk to Coach.me founder Tony Stubblebine about the benefits of meditation he knows firsthand and has helped 85,000 people realize. We’ll examine it as a physical exercise as well as a business skill that allowed Tony to tap into his inner killer and convince his investors — as well as himself — that he had what it takes to be a successful CEO. He’ll also guide us through our own meditation right here on the show. Enjoy!

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Why does anyone need life coaching, and does meditation really do anyone any good? Without hesitation, Coach.me founder and CEO Tony Stubblebine will answer “yes” to both of these questions; he hasn’t always been convinced, but practical use of both quickly turned him into a bona fide believer.

When it comes to coaching, a high-performing person will usually be game for trying anything new that might give them an edge in what they’re trying to accomplish in life. The low performer, on the other hand, tends to brush off the mere suggestion that they need help of any kind — such a suggestion might even be received as an indictment of their own flaws, and their fragile egos get bruised (or, at the very least, offended).

Tony got over his initial fear and skepticism of coaching when, as an entrepreneur, his lead investor offered him the chance to work with his own executive coach. “This guy is founder of two of the top 10 most-trafficked websites on the Internet,” says Tony. “He’s the CEO of Twitter; he’s a multi-billionaire, and he’s, like, ‘Yeah, coaching really is great for me, and I want to protect my investment.'”

Tony continues: “If I’m going to start anywhere, why don’t I start with someone who’s coaching one of the top entrepreneurs of all time? And also, if this guy’s using a coach, then who am I to say I don’t need it? I want to be where he is. Of course I want every advantage that I can get.”

Coach.me came about as a way to share the life-changing benefits of coaching with people who strive to excel in their fields — especially those who may not even realize it’s an option. “I didn’t even know that this existed,” says Tony, “and here I am; I’m getting my first executive coach after I’ve been a CEO for seven years. That’s way too late! In sports, at least, it’s much more common. You get your coach when you’re little, and you get groomed all the way to the professional level.”

As technologists, Tony and his team came up with a way to make coaching more accessible to more people with the quality control of only dealing with the best coaches available. “If you put coaches online,” says Tony, “you get to do all of these special things that makes coaching a lot easier to get to. You get to measure the performance of the coaches. So we could bring in 10,000 coaches [and the system would] tell you these 200 are elite coaches, and they’re the only coaches you’re going to see. That’s how we run our platform. We look at the success rates of their clients and…these are the ones that we’re going to promote in our directory.”

There’s also the matter of geography no longer being a factor in deciding which coaches are accessible. “I grew up as a distance runner, “says Tony, “and I happen to know where all the top running coaches are in America. There’s one in Eugene, Oregon, there’s one in Palo Alto at Stanford, there’s one in Arizona, and one in Colorado.” Prior to Coach.me, if you didn’t live in one of those places, you would only have access to mediocre coaches. But now nobody has to settle for less. “We feel like our job at Coach.me is to make those top coaches really accessible to you wherever you live.”

Don’t Call It Mindfulness

If quality in coaching is a dependable constant at Coach.me, so is its adoption of meditation as a mental strength exercise; it’s not just a spiritual haven for New Agers, anymore. “My parents were married by their Tai Chi teacher in California, so you can’t get hippier than that,” says Tony. “I think of meditation as something they would have been doing. Then I started running into all of these athletes and businesspeople who meditated. My board has two really high-level people — Evan Williams and Bijan Sabet. They always show up a little distracted, so early on, I started having them meditate right at the beginning. They loved that idea because they already meditated…I’m meditating with billionaires; I’m not meditating with people that smell like patchouli oil!”

Tony doesn’t say this as a snobbish dismissal of people who do smell like patchouli oil, but to clarify that meditation is a useful tool for people from all walks of life. “Part of my job is to be non-judgmental,” he says. “It’s to support everyone no matter where they’re coming from. But the reason I talk so strongly about meditation is because there’s this whole other world that needs it, [with people who] believe in their own performance, are super dedicated to high performance, and they need some way to train their brain. How do you train for mental strength? It turns out meditation is far and away the best way to train for it. But if you use the standard meditation language with them, they shut down.”

But Tony’s not the only one who knows this. He relays how a middle school basketball teammate of his, Graham Betchart, now works as a mental strength trainer for professional athletes. “He has led meditations for the last two number one draft picks in the NBA,” says Tony.

Meditation Is Easier than You Probably Think It Is

There are three abilities that we aim to enhance by meditation: awareness of thoughts and emotions, control over focus, and calm.

You may be under the impression that successful meditation entails thinking about absolutely nothing for excruciatingly long periods of time (and a bad meditation teacher might even reinforce this perception). Tony reassures us that — for our purposes — neither is true. As a beginner, meditating for three minutes is a good place to start. And if you’re worried that your brain is too easily distracted for the rigors of truly “empty” thought required by meditation, then there’s more good news: the more your mind wanders, the better.

“The two things that happen when your mind wanders is you try to become aware,” explains Tony. “You say, ‘Oh, my mind just wandered! What was I thinking about?’ And then once you’ve become aware [and] acknowledged what your mind wandered to, then you bring it back to your breath, and that’s the control of focus. When we train for meditation, we teach it like doing pushups. This is pushups for your brain, and the two phases of the pushup are: becoming aware, and then bringing your focus back to your breath. And every time you do that, we consider that one repetition. So in fact it’s actually good if your mind wanders a lot, because that means you’re getting in a lot of reps. Maybe some blissed out dude is meditating and his mind only wanders three times — so he just got three reps in.”

By this example, if you sit down for 10 minutes and your brain wanders 40 times, you’re getting way more out of the experience than the aforementioned dude.

“That awareness and control of focus,” Tony says, “are two skills that you end up bringing to every aspect of your life, from personal relationships to business relationships to productivity. It just all feeds into whatever it is that you’re really trying to accomplish.”

In this episode of The Art of Charm, Tony guides us through a simple meditation, and points us toward free exercises that will help us develop our meditation skills at Coach.me/meditation. If you like what you see at Coach.me and you want to find out how coaching can make a difference toward helping you achieve your goals, use code CHARMWEEK for a free week!

THANKS, TONY STUBBLEBINE!

Resources from this episode:

The Calm App
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Art of Charm bootcamps

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AJ Harbinger - author of 1049 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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