In this live conversation from our December Executive Summit, Heather Haas, President of ADVISA, and Kevin Bailey, CEO of Dreamfuel, discuss the role of mental performance and health in the workplace.

Heather explains the importance of emotional intelligence for effective leadership and fostering a positive work culture. She stresses how leaders play a critical role in shaping a company’s culture, and how bringing core values, mindsets, and behaviors into the workplace can enhance overall productivity.

Kevin discusses the concepts of resilience, discipline, and drive, which he believes are key in maintaining mental fitness in high-stress environments, like startups. 

He highlights the importance of maintaining personal health and balance, even while leading a company, considering it as vital as professional success.

Heather Haas is the President at ADVISA, a company focused on driving change through leadership effectiveness. 

Kevin Bailey is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dreamfuel, a mental performance platform that helps elite teams & individuals thrive under pressure.

Be sure to check out these great clips from the show:

  • [01:34] Understanding DreamFuel’s Mission
  • [02:28] Understanding Advisa’s Mission
  • [03:34] Heather’s Transition from Education to Leadership
  • [05:03] Kevin’s Journey to Neuroscience and Mental Performance
  • [09:00] The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
  • [12:57] The Role of Neuroscience in Mental Performance
  • [19:47] The Impact of Leadership on Company Culture
  • [22:29] Balancing Leadership and Parenthood

Get IN. is the show focused on the unfolding stories and most extraordinary innovations happening in the heartland today. Get IN. is brought to you by Powderkeg and Elevate Ventures.

Both Kevin and Heather have also recorded in Studio Episodes with Get IN. where they dive deeper on their stories and journey to running their companies make sure you check out: 

In our conversation with Heather and Kevin, you will learn:

  • How neuroscience affects leadership: Did you know that your emotional intelligence can significantly affect your team’s performance? Kevin’s journey to a neuroscience degree has armed him with fascinating insights into how our brains can be our greatest asset in leadership and beyond.
  • Stigma, Resilience, and the Tech Industry: We tackled tough topics, like the stigma surrounding mental health in business and the unique challenges faced in the tech sector. Resilience emerged as a key theme, and we explored ways to build this crucial skill.
  • Leadership That Shapes Culture: Heather shared her powerful transition from education to leadership. She reminded us that the heart of any organization lies in its culture—and it’s up to us, as leaders, to nurture and shape it through our actions and core values.

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Episode Transcript

Matt: Tonight, we were going to have a fireside chat with Heather Haas, who is the president of ADVISA and Kevin Bailey, who is the CEO of Dreamfuel.

Our first presenter is Heather Haas. You may know her from the Get IN podcast she was featured on recently. We love working with Advisa. They’ve been partners of us, of ours for years. They have helped tech companies like ExactTarget, Lessonly, and of course companies all over the country.

Matt: Those are just some of the hometown heroes you may have heard of really focus on building better teams from leadership all the way through the culture of the entire company. They do a remarkable job. So please help me welcome Heather Haas to the stage.

And our next presenter is someone I have known for a very long time. He was at one of the very first Powderkeg events. 12 years ago. We’re both over 64. And so we saw each other and we’re like, what do you do? And we were both really into digital marketing at the time.

Struck up a friendship. I worked for his company. Then he worked for my company. He’s got his own company that he’s really scaled up working with companies all over the country, including Some very well known brands like link squares go to market fund working with all kinds of high growth businesses, helping them perform better and specifically focused on mental performance.

And we just did a entrepreneur survey with them. So there’ll be some data on that soon. He might even have some stats. He might preview here. I don’t know. Please help me welcome to CEO of Dreamfuel, Kevin Bailey,

as I said. If you have questions, please write them down or save them because we’ll open this up. We’ve got a lot better question askers than me here, but I do have a few prepared, so I’d love to just Could we just start though, maybe for those that don’t know, Kevin, do you mind just giving the elevator pitch on Dreamfuel?

Kevin: Yeah. So great to be here, Matt. Love what Powderkeg’s doing, love working with entrepreneurs and founders and executives on building these great companies that change the world. So Dreamfuel is a mental performance coaching company. We have a platform and some software we use too, but basically our job is to help entrepreneurs operate in a world that is extremely uncertain.

We never know what’s around the corner. We’re always trying to innovate, trying to do less with more. Tons of scarcity. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re trying to turn lead into gold. And help them have a great mindset as they go through that. I believe that entrepreneurs are under similar levels of pressure as professional athletes.

Every professional athlete has a mental performance coach. I think it’s about time every entrepreneur does.

Matt: I love it. It’s a little early to drop the mic, but that was like a drop the mic type of statement. Heather, I know I gave a broad brush strokes view of Advisa, but do you mind just sharing a little bit of what you’re up to currently and some of the ways that you work with entrepreneurs and CEOs?

Heather: Sure. It’s great to be here. We exist to create effective teams, leaders and cultures because we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive at work. So we all spend a lot of time at work and it should be a place where we’re both cared for and challenged to be our best selves. And one of the things that we’ve seen, especially, in the last few years is leaders and managers are really struggling to figure it out.

A lot of them don’t have the skills and on top of it, the entire world of work has been turned upside down. So we get a lot of joy out of coming alongside executive teams and leaders in the trenches and helping them learn new skills and mindsets to be effective.

Matt: I’m so glad both of you do all that work.

And one of the things I appreciate about both of you is that You really bring vulnerability into the conversation. You’re willing to go there, you’re willing to create safe spaces, so hopefully we can do a little bit of that tonight, and I know we’ve been sharing stories over beers prior to this, so we’ll just lean into that energy.

Heather, I know you were an educator prior to taking the helm at Advisa. Can you talk a little bit about maybe one of those moments where you We’re making that transition from educator to leading a team.

Heather: Yeah, my early career, I was a teacher and a principal, and my passion is teaching and learning.

So that part of what I was doing was always a great fit. It was when I took a behavioral assessment called the predictive index, and someone sat me down and went through my profile. And they were saying things to me like you’re extremely risk oriented, you’re a change agent, you like things to move quickly, you have a sense of urgency, you’re very comfortable with risk, you don’t like rules.

And every single thing that he was saying to me I was realizing that I was like a wilting flower in public education because that’s a place where as a classroom teacher and even as a building level administrator you don’t have a ton of autonomy. And the world of education, bless teachers, those who are still in the profession, it’s gotten harder and more challenging, but once I heard those words about how I was wired and motivated, it was like, I couldn’t unknow it.

And that led me that the consultant who gave me that read back on my predictive index, I approached him after the session and said, how do I do what you do that is what you just did for me is a gift and that self awareness is magical. And so that, that was my entree into advisor.

Matt: That’s very cool.

And Kevin, you’re no stranger to the world of high growth, high pressure startups. Was there a turning point for you that led you to go pursue a. Neuroscience degree master’s in neuroscience at that and really focus on mental performance.

Kevin: Yeah, first startup that I founded, co founded, you were involved in.

And it was a rollercoaster ride, grew really fast, fastest growing company in the state in 2011. And I was just a punk, 26 years old or something. Once we got to about 100 employees, I had my first kid. I started to feel the pressure and my mindset started to shift from one of abundance and natural optimism, maybe to one of pessimism.

And I was lucky enough to run into two people, a neuroscientist by the name of Diane Powell and a mindfulness coach who was a former Vietnam fighter pilot who carried PTSD with meditation. So both of them took me under their wing and taught me a lot of the things that they knew. They didn’t work with any tech companies, but I was easily able to see how this stuff was applicable to my role, the executives in our company, as well as the sales people.

And the change in me, I think, was pretty noticeable for my friends. And people like David DeRam from Greenlight were like, hey, what changed? And I was like, I’m working with these two people, and neuroscience is crazy. Can you believe that you can change the way that you feel? And the way that you feel is the way that you work, and show up for your team, and blah, blah, blah.

And and then I obviously went and helped you with Powderkeg. As I did those few consulting engagements in the beginning. Once I came to powder keg realized that the problem I was seeing it slingshot and my first company was rampant in the tech space. And every founder was dealing with the uncertainty and it was putting a lot of a lot of negative mindsets into them.

Then I was like, I need to get serious about this, and I was like, I need to go pursue a neuroscience masters, and still finishing that, almost done. That’s pretty tough. But, It doesn’t sound easy. It’s what did I get myself into? But, no it’s amazing. The beauty is that in the 80s, Tony Robbins and people like, would talk about things and be like, ah, this is what we’re seeing and this is what we’re feeling.

But now we have neuroscience that backs up everything we do. And it’s testable, especially with athletes and people like that. And it’s the evidence is there. If you’re not using these tools, then, you’re really missing out.

Matt: Could you maybe share one thing that surprised you about neuroscience that kind of changed the way you approached?

Coaching, or at least gave you some context of Oh, that’s why that works.

Kevin: I think the biggest surprising thing is that you can completely control the way that you show up and feel. That was a shock to me, because I remember during the most stressful moments of my first startup, I would sit there, I’d come into the office, and I would be in a pretty catabolic, destructive state of mind, and I would just sit there and stare at my computer screen and get mad, and then

Matt: You were a lot of fun those days.

Kevin: They called me Darth Vader. You’re still friends. I don’t know if I can ever express that. And I remember when I was sitting there staring at my computer screen, I was like, I remember those days where I was like, felt like I was on top of the world, and I could, I was so quick. I was great wit, and I was so inspirational.

I was like, what the hell happened to that guy? And then when I started, understood some neuroscience, I started to understand that you can influence your physiology, you have to influence your physiology, your emotions and feelings, and your thoughts. Once you can influence those four factors then you can show up however you want.

Even when the pressure is incredibly high and you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, you can show up how you want to. And that’s incredibly liberating. And you can be in flow state where you’re more productive. And you can lead from the trenches the right way. And there’s just some tools you gotta learn.

Matt: We’ll definitely make sure we, yeah, save some time for some of those tools. But I wanted to talk a little bit, Heather, with you because you mentioned predictive index was like your gateway drug into this whole world of of culture and building teams and understanding yourself. And a big piece of understanding yourself, you talk about a lot, is emotional intelligence.

How do you see emotional intelligence playing a role in the workplace when it comes to mental performance, mental health? And just good leadership.

Heather: Yeah. Piggybacking on what Kevin was sharing about the pressure that you feel when you’re trying to grow a business and you have people expecting things from you.

And I think as a team, when we were coming out of the pandemic, we came together and we all acknowledged. We’re feeling burned out and disoriented and disconnected and we were, so we, some of us read a book called Burnout and by the Nagoski sisters. But one of the really powerful things in that book is that your emotions have like a beginning, a middle and an end.

And what can happen to us is we’re so busy and we’re so constantly on the go that we never let our emotions finish. And so what happens is it’s like a pipe and like all these half finished emotions get stuck and they’re stuck in there. It’s a weird metaphor, but we had been doing emotional intelligence for a long time leading up to that because of course, we’re human.

So everyone has emotion. You either acknowledge them, understand them, and then harness them to be more effective in decision making and relationships. Or you ignore them and then they eke out in unhealthy ways. So that had always been part of our practice. But it was when we read that burnout book and I had this new understanding of Oh my gosh, the creating space to finish those emotions and come alongside leaders and give them a way to understand that, number one.

But then number two, what’s really powerful about EQ is you can. Learn the skills. There’s 15 competencies and there’s things you can actually do differently that will lead to more productive and healthier outcomes for your relationships and your role as a leader of people.

Matt: How do you see this playing out at some of your clients without naming names?

I imagine it’s probably measurable, the difference that this makes. I know sometimes things like feelings and emotions can feel fuzzy, but one of, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from having conversations with you and Kevin, like this stuff is actually pretty measurable and noticeable even on the PNL.

Heather: It is. One of the, one of the metrics that where you can see differences in how managers are showing up and engaging is, many people are measuring employee engagement or doing best places to work. When you can do a B test with. These managers went through learning experiences that included emotional intelligence and they got some coaching, which is a really important part.

It’s one thing to learn in the classroom, but only 10 percent of our learning comes from like the workshop. 20 percent comes from relationships and 70 percent comes from back on the job the environmental factors. When you put coaching with that, so yeah, we’ve been able to see differences in engagement data.

Differences in retention, which managers seem able to engage and retain people over time and then tons of anecdotal evidence where you’ll have employees saying about the CEO, like he’s a kind, kinder, gentler human, he’s calmer or she’s more connected to herself and to others. Those are really meaningful.

Those are really meaningful metrics, even though they may not show up on the bottom line. But even individuals that go through some of our programming themselves, they will say, this has changed my life, not just my business. Which feels better than that. Yeah, it’s powerful.

Matt: Kevin, one thing I know about you is that you’re a data guy.

Can you talk maybe even like pulling the thread a little bit on what Heather was saying? You made the comparison to sports, how professional athletes all have coaches. Why don’t professional CEOs have coaches? And of course, sports, you’re measuring stuff all the time. And I know a big part of your business is you’ve actually developed some software to help measure this.

Can you talk a little bit about the ways you’re measuring it and the way you think about it when you’re Coaching a CEO or any executive.

Kevin: Yeah. I always like to say there’s no tape measure for the mind. If you’re doing a physical fitness regimen, if you’re getting stronger, you can measure that, if you’re getting, if you’re trying to gain size, you can measure that, or trying to lose weight, you can measure that.

But these neural networks, related to things like discipline and resilience and motivation, drive, etc. We don’t have a fMRI technology that can just go in and measure those yet. So yeah, you all figure it out or whatever. Neuralink, but

Matt: r and d, department of Dreamfuel,

Kevin: yeah, not quite so yeah, so we like to look at the pillars of mental fitness, like I just said which we look at as discipline, drive resilience, vitality, and a couple others. And then just measure those. We created a factorial analysis just to figure out what questions we need to ask to measure those, and we just watch those over time through a piece of software we made called Intrinsic.

And it’s beautiful to watch as people grow and learn the tools, resilience is important, in the tech scene. We get fire drills and knocked in the head and slapped across the face so many times.

Matt: These last three years have been really easy though.

Kevin: It’s a daily thing.

So if you can’t bounce back quick or if you aren’t, maybe you’re on sales or something, there’s, it’s important for other departments as well. It’s, you can’t bounce back quick. And you let the energy of the gut punch you just took, influence your next investor meeting, that next investor meeting is not going to go so well.

I think, get what you were alluding to in the beginning, like, why is it so embraced in professional sports, but not so much in business yet a little growth mindset there yet I think it is because of the mental health stigma. I think people are scared that, if they work on this stuff, they admit, they’re having a problem and they need some help, that some, maybe their investors or something like that will look down on them.

But the beautiful thing is we have some investors now, like GTM Fund, Elevate, JMI they take this stuff seriously too, and they’re implementing it with their own staff, so I’m seeing some positive indicators there that there’s going to be positive change in the sector, but I think, yeah, it’s the, on the field, when you get the yips, everybody knows and laughs at you.

When you get the yips in the boardroom, it’s only you and the investors and maybe your executives or co founders or whatever that see it, and nobody wants to talk about it, but stuff can be avoided if you know what to do. Yeah.

Matt: Maybe give us one tactic or tip. Just got the gut punch. You heard the investor’s not gonna invest in the round.

They verbally committed, but then they back. I know this never happens, but they verbally committed, but they never wire the funds. You find out, oh, they’re not wiring the funds. What do you do to coach a CEO in that moment when they’ve just discovered that information?

Kevin: Yeah. So like I said, I always look at this from physiology, emotions, feelings, and thoughts.

So I’ll give you a couple things to think about in that. And these need to be wired into your physiology or what we call habituated, because if you don’t do them automatically, it’s hard to remember to do them. So there’s you’re rewiring the brain to do this stuff automatically. The first thing is that you don’t want to stop breathing.

You want to keep breathing. I know it sounds simpleton or something, but the stress response comes in normally because we stop breathing. You ever seen those old cartoons and stuff where they they bare their fists something bad happens, they tighten their fists and steam comes out their ears.

They’re not breathing. They get a red head, red face or whatever. That’s like the natural response to, to what you talked about, like a big stressful event. So if you can remember the simple thing, just, okay, something negative just happened, I feel my body starting to shift, just breathe now. And just start breathing.

It’s going to feel very uncomfortable and unnatural at first, because you’re going to want to not breathe rhythmically and smoothly, you’re going to want to be choppy and stop breathing, so start breathing. And then the next thing, so that’s physiology, the next thing I like to do is relax my stomach because the stomach wants to tighten and the vagus nerve is down there and that stuff tightens that also throws you in, basically it’s like turning the spigot of cortisol on, turning it up, at least but so you can relax your stomach.

Another physiological thing you can do. The breathing thing is, first and foremost, if I’m like really in it and relax my stomach. Okay. And then then I like to end it with a cognitive reframe. So this works at the thought level. So I’ll tell myself, this is just an easy thing to say.

I say this when I get pulled over, not that I ever speed, Matt. Go best thing could have happened in your head. Best thing could have happened.

Matt: You’ve rewired your brain. I remember you had that at Powderkeg and it annoyed the crap out of me. Because something terrible would happen, you’d be like, best thing that could happen!

It was just like, not my response, not really my reaction, Kevin, but, it was good.

Kevin: The brain’s like a, the subconscious mind’s like a heat seeking missile for confirming your beliefs. So when I say best thing could have happened, it causes the subconscious then to dig, it’s a lot faster at processing than your conscious mind, to dig in and try and figure out why is this the best thing could have happened.

Typically it’s going to be a lesson. Oh, I learned not to do this in the future. That’s great. That’s not going to happen. But it might also lead you to a more intelligent, creative way to address the problem. Oh, because the person who gave you the bad news, they’re like, Oh, Matt’s not freaking out like I thought he would.

So they’re like this is nice. And then Matt comes around and says, that’s a great point, but what if we look at it this way? Or what if we try it this way? Oh, that’s interesting. So you keep, you keep the vibe up a little bit and you’re not letting cortisol come into the equation.

And then, afterward, you assess it, and you learn what you learned. But in that moment, I call this holding form. We’ve got to hold form in those tough conversations or tough negotiations. And if you can hold form, like you’re in a heavy squat or something, if you can hold form, then you can control the conversation the way you need to in those situations, and not, become a victim of what’s happening.

Matt: I love all of that. I think there’s some really good tidbits there. Holding forms are great. It’s almost like mantra hold form.

Kevin: You got warmups, you got holding form, you got cool downs.

Matt: Yeah, I love that. I love that. And Heather, I know you and your coaches at Advisa work with leaders at all levels. And I know that you, we have all seen, maybe even experienced firsthand cultures that have seen.

Maybe leaders reacting not in the way Kevin just described, but leaning into the natural response, which over time can create a chronic experience, which leads to what someone might call a bad culture, which I don’t believe that they’re a bad culture. I just think there are some cultures that have taken a turn because leaders haven’t had the tools in order to help themselves and therefore help their team.

The question I’m getting to is how do you coach some of your leaders and. How would you go about treating some not treating, it is like treating but coaching a team that maybe needs to turn a culture around when it’s not just themselves, but the whole organization?

Heather: Yeah it starts with really understanding that.

The culture of an organization is what most of the leaders do most of the time. So the shadow of the leader is a real thing. So helping executives understand that culture isn’t this nebulous thing that exists out there that you have no control over. It’s actually a very real thing that can either be a competitive advantage that will attract the best and brightest talent to your organization and help you succeed and prosper.

Or great people aren’t gonna wanna stick around or they’re not gonna wanna come to work in the first place. So first you catch their attention. This isn’t soft fuzzy stuff anymore. There aren’t enough humans to do the jobs. So demographically speaking, that’s a reality. So executives are starting to say, and be open to the things you’re doing too.

Like it’s time. They’re realizing that I need to pay attention to this and learn how to do it. But it really starts once you get their attention. And if they want to shift their culture, it really comes down to what is, what are the core values? What are the mindsets and behaviors that will hasten and enable your strategic goals?

So you do have to lead them through an exercise where you, we have a process that we take them through that leads to defining both core values and unpacking those into behavioral terms because you can say teamwork’s a core value. What does that mean, right? So you do have to unpack that so that there’s a common understanding of what do we mean by these values.

Those become the pillars of your intentional culture, and then the next piece that’s really critical if you want to shift the culture is you have to define leader capabilities. What do leaders need to say and do around here to activate those core values and achieve those goals? So that clarifying those leader capabilities, three to five, we’re not talking, 10 things.

Now we have the executive team bought in that how leaders behave. It impacts the kind of work environment that we create and I’ve learned over time, you can’t delegate carrying the culture. You also can’t really delegate leadership development. It starts at the top and it starts with making sure that executive team deeply understands the role they play in it and that they claim it.

You’ve got to be a culture carrier.

Kevin: I love when we get hired and they’re like, just fix my team. It’s it starts

Heather: with you. And I’m like. If you’re not willing. Yeah. Sorry for the news. Yeah. If you’re not willing to do the work with us, actually we can’t help you. You can’t just delegate it over to HR and tell HR to call Advisa.

We’re gonna try to run it back up the flagpole.

Matt: That’s great. And I know you’re both leading companies, both also parents and there’s a little bit of, and probably have some people leading companies and who are also parents in the audience. What do you do to stay grounded, balanced keep your mental health in check while balancing those two things and maybe what advice do you have for parent CEO slash president slash founders in the audience?

Heather: Oh, gosh. Yeah, I am a parent. I’m married. I have three kids. My oldest is a freshman at SMU University in Dallas. My middle daughter’s a junior in high school. My son is a seventh grader. So it’s busy and I think one of the things that’s really important about this whole how do you balance it all as a running a company or running a family. The first thing you do is you say it’s really hard It’s not easy to do and on any given day some days. I’m a much better CEO than I am a mom or a wife. Other days, I might be a better wife and mom than I am CEO. So it’s, you really have to take the long view. It’s not about keeping score every single day.

It’s about having clarity about the kind of human that you want to be taking the long view. And specifically for me, my faith is important to me. Taking time in meditation and prayer and spending time You know, reading and journaling is a very grounding exercise for me. I also, I’m a former English teacher.

I love to read. Oftentimes, executives get really caught up in reading business books. When CEOs ask me, what should I read? I give them fiction recommendations. Or I give them a really great non fiction book. And the reason that I do that is because other human stories, even fictional characters. We are creatures from a brain perspective and how we’ve evolved over time who are drawn to story.

And when you can, for so for me, when I can get into a novel and just experience life and humanity through another person’s eyes, it’s a really healthy way for me to get a perspective check on myself.

Matt: Do you have a book recommendation for the group?

Heather: I should have been prepared for that question.

There’s a really great book called The Assault. That’s pretty chill. It’s not chill. Actually, one of the things that I do too, that is a tip I give parents sometimes. I love to read, so it’s easy, but when your kids get into high school or middle school and they’re at, they read. for school. I always try to get the reading list and just pick a couple because then you can talk to your kid about the book.

So the assault was a book that my now freshman in college daughter was reading and she was super into it so I latched on to it but it’s it’s a World War II book but what happens is this family witnesses a German murder right in front of their house and they start to panic that it’s going to look like they did it.

So the sun goes out and moves the body, but then that, anyway, and it sets off this chain of events that transcends time and centuries, but that’s an amazing.

Matt: That’s a great recommendation.

Kevin: Yeah. I want to yeah, say on something Heather said. Yeah, please.

I recently became Catholic a few years ago, and I learned about Sabbath, it’s a day of rest, every seven days take a day of rest, and I was like, my Sundays don’t look like a day of rest. Not at all, I got four kids and I got a six month old right now. And I really thought about it a little bit, and I’m like, what would a day of rest actually look like as an adult with four kids?

And I thought about the neuroscience aspects of rest, and thought about us entrepreneurs. We are dopamine machines. We’re all addicted to dopamine. We move real quick. We’re super motivated. We push push, push. It’s I like fast cars. It’s like we’re always pedal to the metal, as hard as we can go.

And that’s dopamine, and that creates a brain that’s very dopamine dependent and solidifies those neural networks and just really pushes us there. But, serotonin is the balancing molecule to dopamine and some of the other feel good hormones. Dopamine’s like a pleasure molecule, serotonin’s a happiness molecule.

But we don’t get much serotonin, believe it or not, as entrepreneurs. We’re just incredibly driven and motivated. What I started doing, and I had a, this is a challenge to you guys who feel that way, that you’re just always on. I started to remember what it was like when I was a kid on the first day of summer.

That’s a serotonin day, or a snow day. Yeah, or a snow

Matt: day.

Snow days are the best.

Remember when we had to wait and watch the TV? Yeah.

Kevin: So dopamine’s go Oh, yeah, yeah. So dopamine’s like goal oriented and time bound. Like soccer is dopamine. And a kid kicking a ball for the joy of it’s like serotonin.

There’s no time, it’s not time bound, and there’s no goals. Okay? So it’s like a serotonin day. What would that look like? And then I talked to my wife and I was like, hey, what if you just gave me a day where I had no responsibilities at all to the kids or anything, and I could just do whatever I wanted, I could wake up with the sun, go home when my mom called me in for dinner, like a kid.

How would that be? And she goes, hell no! And I was like, And I was like,

And I was like, what if I gave one to you too? And she’s so we started a trade. We took a day, every other week, and we just dedicated it to serotonin and just doing whatever the hell we want. We don’t do things that are real dopamine heavy like gambling and stuff, we do things that are just naturally nourishing to the mind, body, and spirit.

Matt: And Could you list maybe a couple of those things just in case?

Kevin: Yeah, sure. So I, so for me, I’m trying to push the boundaries of what’s possible for, my own mindfulness and stuff. So I get up in the morning pretty early. I do so I try and you got to relax the mind, the body, and then the spirit, whatever you consider that to be,

Matt: you give them the crazy Kevin Bailey version.

Tone it down for their lifestyle.

Kevin: Yeah. So I get up and I get up when I feel like it. And then the first thing I do is I do a little bit of Qi Gong. Qi Gong is a way to nourish, so to speak, the energy in your body. Move the body around. Light exercise would work as well. Then I do progressive muscle relaxation to really relax the body.

And then I do a specific type of meditation to relax the mind. Those things come together. And I feel, at a level of peace that is beyond anything I could ever experience if I didn’t do those three things, I use that to then go and enjoy, maybe I hang out with my wife or go do something I just love, like maybe, go do something in nature, maybe go fishing or something, just really chill.

And then I’ll go have a long meal. So maybe I’ll go eat Chipotle in the sun, listening to my favorite music, just, jamming out. By the way, my phone is a million miles from me and I like, I’m not looking at any of that stuff again. No goals, not time bound. And then maybe go do a light workout, something, I don’t push it.

I’m not trying to set PRs, but, maybe go do a little strength training. And then end the day, around four o’clock, pick my kids up and have a really nice long slow cooked meal with them, that’s like a typical serotonin day for me.

Matt: I like it. Serotonin Sabbath day. Yeah. It’s good.

Yeah, I dig that.

Kevin: But I’m serious. I coach everybody on this. It’s it’s. We wait months to, like we’re like half a year. Most entrepreneurs barely ever take vacations. You do this every other week, you got a day every other, every few weeks, you can look forward to doing whatever the heck you want.

And if you can coordinate again with your partner on it. And, it’s just, it’s a beautiful thing to look forward to. I highly recommend it. And it keeps the, we got, we’re run, whether believe it or not, we’re not doing sprints. Like this thing’s a marathon. You want to build and grow and exit a company.

It’s a 10 year thing in most cases. Maybe you’re lucky and you do it in seven years or something like powers or whatever. But it’s a 10 plus year thing. That’s a marathon. You have to build the dopamine networks and the serotonin networks to be in harmony with each other. If you want to be able to make that marathon.

So you actually need. It’s uncomfortable at first and it feels weird, why am I doing this? You have to remember how to be like a kid again and cultivate that. When I do that day right, it’s like I’m hitting a gong that will resonate throughout the next two weeks and I’ll show up differently for my team and my family.

Because that one day where I really got in that state, it’s like sometimes when you meditate it holds for a little while, that day holds. Sometimes for a couple of weeks.

Matt: Yeah, I love that. And I want to open it up to a couple of questions if you all have some. But I wanted to share one thing that you shared with me that I found really helpful, and I have now shared that several times, which is I think it was maybe early pandemic you and I were catching up, and it was like, I’m just going from one thing to the next, trying to make sure everything’s in check, people are getting paid, team’s getting taken care of, I’m checking out the to do list every day after day, and I was in like, a heightened state of everything being dopamine driven.

You pointed this out to me. It’s not like what I came to you with. It was like I I’m having trouble finding any fun. True happiness. I feel good about checking out the to do list. But the happiness part is gone right now. And one of the techniques that you showed, shared to me, I think you had done something similar, was creating a to do a serotonin driven activity.

And that’s what I did. I set a goal to play my guitar and write songs for 20 minutes a day. And of course, as long as you do it for 20 minutes, like timer goes off. There were a lot of days I did it for like a whole hour. And eventually what was really interesting about that is that dopamine driven Oh, I checked the box then turned into, Oh, I just want to pick up my guitar, like naturally.

And so it was the paradigm that I found really helpful from that was like using our natural wiring as CEOs to get shit done, to make sure I’m getting shit done. That is a serotonin inducing activity. Yep. And now that’s great. That just happens naturally, which thank you. No problem.

I think I’ve said that before, but I’ll say it again here and I wanted to share it with you all. Appreciate it. I found that to be really helpful. Anyone here have a question? We got time for a question or two If.

These guys have it all figured out. Yeah, Noel. Is that offering the best motivation to do this? Whereas in the sports, at a premier level, it’s the same level of motivation that athletes have. Yeah, it’s a great question.

Kevin: One of the things that helps extreme athletes get into flow state is knowing they could die. It’s one of the flow triggers. So like a big wave surfer knows he can die. So It helps him initiate, because flow state is, you’re operating intuitively, the critical mind is gone you’re in, you’re, all the best neurotransmitters in the world are running at the same time, so it’s a beautiful place to be, and there’s it’s a spectrum, there’s different degrees of flow I don’t know, it, it depends on the life you want to live, it comes down to that.

It’s if you want to give yourself the impression that there is no backup plan and that there is only this, you can wire yourself that way if you want. But I’m, once you understand neuroplasticity, you can learn how to rewire the mind to give you that mindset, I think that’s a thing that we don’t understand is the subconscious controls 95 percent of our thoughts.

So if you want to feel like everything’s on the line, then work with somebody who can program your mind to believe everything’s on the line. And you’ll show up like a pro athlete because you’ll know that if X, Y, or Z doesn’t happen, then these major problems are going to happen. And in fact, let me just pull that thread a little bit further, Andrew Huberman is obviously a popular neuroscientist.

He talks about this too. Personally, I don’t go into this too much with people unless I really have to. But start talking to yourself about all the things that can go wrong, and play those out, and really start to tell yourself, If this thing goes wrong, I’m in a really bad place. It will increase performance.

The question is for how long until you, potentially burn out that comes into play, like me having good processes for rebuilding yourself as you put that much pressure on yourself. But it’s a really great question. I can’t answer it perfectly for you, but I,

Think that’s the thing is, can you be on top of it and can you control it rather than it controlling you? Because fear of failure can cause somebody a lot of problems as well. But if you’re, if you can, if you’re a puppeteer of your mindset, then you can choose how you want to show up when you.

Yeah yeah, good points.

Matt: I really appreciate the question and you sharing. It gave me a chance to look at my phone and realize we’re past time. Time flies when you’re having fun. We’re in flow state talking about this.

This has been Get IN, a Powderkeg production and we want to hear from you. If you have suggestions for our guest or segment, reach out to Matt or Nate on LinkedIn or on email. To discover top tier tech companies outside of Silicon Valley, In hubs like Indiana, check out our newsletter at and to apply for membership to the powder cake executive community, check out powderkeg. com slash premium. We’ll catch you next time and next week as we continue to help the world get in. Since you just listened to this podcast, you might be thinking about starting one for your company.

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