DN119 – Bernie Roth: How We Develop A Habit Of Achievements

Bernie Roth, our guest for today, might be way older than most us but that only mean one thing: he has experienced enough, he has met a lot of people and he has gained enough knowledge to bless us with today. Furthermore, by just hearing his life story, how he overcame all of it and still maintain and positive and happy and be successful is a gem in itself.

 

Bernie grew up in Bronx, in a sort of a Jewish ghetto, surrounded by hostile Italian and Irish people. At 12 years old, his mother died and he was left in the care of his father who had a bipolar disorder. So at 12, he needed to be self-sufficient. He took care of his self and learned to survive in the streets of New York. He did not like school very much but he went to college, just because. In his 2nd eyar of college, he receive a letter saying that he may flunk out of college he will not do better. After that, he did straight A’s. He continued loving school and got his master’s and doctorate degrees.

 

Today, Bernie is a professor of Engineering at Stanford University and has written several books. Videos of Bernie’s talks will help you turn into a wishing, stuck dreamer to a go-getter and driven individual. You will how to overcome challenges and to not let it overshadow your dreams. How to re-frame problems t o make it a stepping stone towards success. Bernie shares his life experiences and those of his friends and students that will surely motivate you to look at your life in an honest, positive way. Be ready to be pumped up, to stop wishing and to start doing!

 

Here’s What You Missed

 

  • What is re-framing problem and how do we do that?
  • What is the difference between trying to do something and actually doing something
  • Having a good idea vs having a good team
  • Life is a matter of opportunities and being prepared
  • How do you find your bliss?
  • How to actually take action?

 

 

 

 

Knowledge Nuggets

 

[9:43] “It was sort of a badge of honor to me. I actually worked a lot to sort of self-support myself. And, so I was working at night and going to school during the day. This was a great life trip in a way.”

 

[11:58] How you approach this stuff is going to be different in terms of your makeup. But within that, it’s this matter of, I’d say being very clear of what your intention is, what is it you want to actually do? Then the commitment o doing it.

 

[13:08] Make sure you’re working on the right problem. Not an abstract pipe dream, but something you really want to do. then, make sure you have the right issue of attacking it. And that usually involves re-framing.

 

[15:32]  So if you try to do something, you’ll get an obstacle. It’ll block you and you’ll give up. If you’re doing something, it doesn’t matter if you hit an obstacle, you’ll find the way around it.

Re-framing the problem. If you blocked that’s because you’re usually working on the wrong problem. And if you re-frame it, you get the right issue. It usually can go away very quickly or it’ll almost solve itself.

 

[17:39] If you have a good group of starter of people who are going to work with you to start the company, it’s much more important than having a good idea, because even if you have a bad idea, if you have a good group of people you’ll, it’ll merge. It’ll eventually get to a good idea.

 

[20:56] It’s the drive, the commitment to have the intention to do it are what makes a person successful.

 

[22:52] My biggest financial wins with the company and all that was by accident. In other words it wasn’t planned. So there was a phone call. There was an opportunity. And I said, yes, they could have been there many phone calls and opportunities where I said, no. I don’t have any idea how those would have turned out. So take opportunities. Life is that way. It’s just a matter of opportunities and being prepared.

 

[28:08] It was felt like at times that my whole life was in preparation for this, not that I was preparing for it. Example, the academic directors of these schools and it takes a whole bunch of skills and it turns out most of those skills I already had. Even though I never had done a job like that before. So learn a bunch of things and be prepared.

 

[29:04] Enjoy being able to do stuff and not looking as everything as a burden.  There are no problems. Everything is an opportunity. To just re-frame problems as opportunities.

 

[33:15]  There are things that you should just need to do, and if you do it, you might as well do it in the way that you like it. And it empowers you rather than a way that drags you down.

 

[37:02] Everyone should find their bliss. So how you find your bliss is to do stuff and to try stuff. , if you’re lucky it’ll happen onto something which really talks to you or resonates to you, but it all gets down to not sitting and just smoking a joint and thinking about dreaming, what you’re going to be. It’s a matter of doing stuff.

 

[39:21] If you can’t see the whole thing to begin with, you take one little step and it creates something another step then another. And you change as you go along. You could sit forever until the right moment comes, it will never come. The only moment is right now, and you have to do it.

 

[40:11] Failures can be a blessing. It gives you a good lesson, and tells you which way to go.  So the name of the game is to do stuff and learn from what you’re doing and then adjust. We all are going to die, the question is what do you do with the journey? And you get to control that.

 

 

Important Reads and Links

 

Recommended books:

  • West with the Night by Beryl Markham
  • The Adjusted American by Gail J. Putney and Snell Putney

 

Bernie Roth’s Books and Programs:

  • The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernie Roth

 

Bernie Roth Website:       http://achievementhabit.com/bernard-roth

Bernie Roth Email:                            [email protected]

Bernie Roth Twitter:                         https://twitter.com/bernie_roth

 

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At Dream Nation, we’re all about building dreams. We do that through podcasts that motivate, educate, and entertain our listeners with some of the best entrepreneurs from around the world to get you to the best tips to level up your game in business in life.

 

If you enjoyed this episode and want to keep building your dream, subscribe to the DreamNation podcast using the links below.

 

Dream Nation on Apple Podcasts – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dream-nation/id1457381714

 

Dream Nation podcast website – http://wordpress-412898-1544418.cloudwaysapps.com/

 

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Catch your host on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/casanova_brooks/

 

If you are in DreamNation, thank you! Feel free to leave a review or share with a friend.

 

Download this episode’s transcript HERE

 

Click Here for a full transcript of this episode:

 

Casanova Brooks:

Bernie, you want to go ahead and say what’s up to DreamNation.

Bernie Roth:

Sure. Hi, thanks. Glad to be here. Thanks for inviting me. I’m glad to talk with you and your people.

Casanova Brooks:

Oh, absolutely. This is going to be a really fun one. Now, as I was telling you before, well, first off, I always like to make sure that we can give the proper introduction.

And so I know that you are a world renowned professor. You’re an author. You’ve been teaching thousands of students for many years, but I always like to think of us. In everyone has this power of an entrepreneur in them. And I like to associate entrepreneurs with superheroes. Why is because we’re constantly putting on capes, we’re flying around the world and we are trying to solve problems, whether they’re our own or our community problems.

And so before you became this world, renown professor and author and everything else, if we can take it back to when you were just a young boy, tell me who is Bernie Roth?

Bernie Roth:

Well, he’s a kid who grew up in the Bronx in a sort of a Jewish ghetto, surrounded by hostile Italian and Irish people. And, had a, Kind of loving parents, but my mother died when I was 12 years old and my father had the, what we now call bipolar.

in those days we call the manic depressive. So basically from age 12 on, I was sort of a street kid and that I had no parental guidance and all of that, which, I think, I mean, there’s a big sadness in my heart about all of that. But basically it empowered me to be self sufficient and take care of myself and survive on the streets of New York.

And, and I had a lovely time about it. I must say I was freer than most of my, Cohort friends and, you know, sort of a juvenile delinquent. And didn’t like school very much did a lot of bad things, but they weren’t terrible, but they weren’t the greatest thing. And eventually I went to college because everybody else went to city college in New York in my neighborhood and didn’t take it very seriously and about.

The second year, I got a note from the Dean. You’re flunking out one more term on probation. And that point, they said, well, they can’t do that to me. I’m smart enough not to log out. And then I essentially went straight A’s from then on and got to love education, got to love school and went on for a master’s degree at Columbia university and a PhD at Columbia university, and then became a professor at Stanford.

So. That’s a capsulation of my life trip in a way, and I’m still doing that. So I started in Stanford, 1962, and I’m still actively involved in the, you know, enjoying every minute of it.

Casanova Brooks:

I love it. Now that’s something for a lot of people. I want to tap into that because you said you weren’t getting good grades and you almost flunked out.

And a lot of people, they have the intellectual ability and they had the gifts inside, but it’s so much of their surroundings that make them not because we all love to learn something new. I think from even when we’re a child, we love curiosity. We love to expose them to different things, but I think it becomes our surroundings of why maybe we say school’s not for us, or maybe we’re just.

Not being taught the things that we’re most interested in. So how did you have that mindset shift to all of a sudden in one semester you say, Hey, they can’t do this to me. I’m going to flip everything.

Bernie Roth:

Well, it had to do with the two things I actually talk about in my book, which is Attention & Intention.

So I had not given it. I didn’t have a strong intention to go to school, but it was the default thing, but I didn’t give it any attention at all. I never did much homework, you know, I was bright, so I could kind of fake it a little bit and stumble along and, you know, buy, get, get charitable Cs. And these somehow managed to have only flunked long course in that part of the term.

But, Basically, I wasn’t doing it. I was pretending to go to school. You know, I was physically going there, but you know, I cut a class to go to the game. I did. I saw the, I dunno if you know what they call “the shot heard around the world”. This is his home run by Bobby Thompson in a game between the Giants and Dodgers, well, I was there for that, I should have been in college, but you know, it was an exciting game.

So I cut school and went to the polo grounds. So, you know, it was that kind of thing. I really was giving it. No. Attention at all. It was just, I was going in name only. And when I got this message that was, you know, an ultimatum, I realized somehow that I really did want to do that. And I stopped, you know, my main interest before that was chasing girls and playing stick ball on the street.

It wasn’t school and it switched to doing homework and staying up all night to get the job done. And it just. Well, I put my focus on it and, you know, I, luckily I had the ability and, you know, it, it worked out fine and I actually got to like it, but before then it was just not something I gave any intention to.

Casanova Brooks:

Got it. Now, let me ask for you. Do you think that it had anything to do with your mother? You know, maybe, and the reason why I say that, that is because of course, a lot of the times we go to college, we go to school cause we feel like at least early and we want to make our parents proud and we want to make them happy.

So for you losing your mother at the age of 12, did you feel like that that was something that she would be proud if you didn’t flunk out?

Bernie Roth:

I don’t know that it was there. Maybe there was, well, you know, I had an aunt who was very concerned and all the sister of my mother. So, you know, there were family members, but they didn’t live close to us.

They lived elsewhere in New York city area. so, you know, they may have been some. Thing about losing face in the family in that way, my father was so oblivious. It wouldn’t have mattered one way or the other hit me. He had us, you know, he asked me, he said, yeah, Mike, you should become a doctor or something like that.

But he, he never graduated high school and he had no real- He had come to America as an immigrant and he had a rough life. So I would. I’d say maybe it was more actually saving face for the guys on the street more. Yeah, it was just, you know, I didn’t want to say Bernie so dumb, he flunked out of school.

I would say that would be more pressure than mine. Well, because at that point, that’s really where all my rewards and interests my peer group, people on the street. You know that I hung out with. So it was more that the memory of my mother, you know, I have a strong memory and it’s a strong influence, but it’s more to be a good person rather than to achieve in academic ways and all that.

She just also, you know, she, she had never graduated high school and it wasn’t something that was a big thing. One thing that I was aware of it by age 12,

Casanova Brooks:

Let me ask. I mean, now when people see you, they’ve seen that you’ve been a professor at one of the highest accredited institutes, you know, in, in the world, but looking back on it, what would you say has been your biggest struggle or at least starting out when you decided to flip everything, if you can look back at, even, let’s say that first 10 to 15 year period, what was your biggest struggle?

Bernie Roth:

well, I’d say there was this really a struggle to me. It was just doing stuff. And the obvious sort of have the blessed with the kind of personality. I just get the job done, whatever it is. If I decide I’m going to do it, whatever it takes, I do it. And I generally get off on doing stuff and get satisfaction out of doing so.

It isn’t. If I ever pull an all nighter. I didn’t come in grumpy the next day, you know? Oh, stuff like that. I would just do it. And, you know, I worked, I actually worked a lot to sort of self-support myself. And, so I was working at night and going to school during the day. But it was all okay. I didn’t think of it as a, it was sort of a badge of honor to me.

It wasn’t really a struggle in terms of fighting anything like that. No, of course there’d be frustrations along the way, you know, but. No, they were minor things in the overall picture. It was, it was, this was a great life trip in a way. and as I said, there was things there is like this deep sadness in my heart from losing my mother and other things like that.

But, Basically, I’m blessed with the happy personality. One of these people who doesn’t get depressed. And so it just, I didn’t view it. I just, whatever it took, you do it. If you, you know, and it, it just, whatever, whatever it is, you handle it.

Casanova Brooks:

Got it. I love it. And it’s that grind that, that school of hard knocks, right?

That, that, you know, “life, it doesn’t have happen to you. It happens for you”. And so it’s always going to be about how you respond. And so looking at your background, it looks like that you’ve always been able to respond very well and respond in a positive manager that kept your energy going.

Bernie Roth:

Wow. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Casanova Brooks:

Love it now for a lot of people right now, there’s the struggle of how do they not allow their problems to overshadow their dreams? Because they, they, they have these dreams, but they’re looking at it right now to say that they don’t have enough resources. Maybe they could never get into Stanford to try to build those connections and those relationships what’s that first. Step for someone being able to overcome in any of their insecurities, would you say?

Bernie Roth:

Yeah. Well, it’s a lot that a lot, depends on who you are in terms of your DNA and your, your environmental experiences and stuff like that. So it’s really, it’s easier for some people it’s harder for others. So my case, my wife has the opposite kind of personality.

So for her, everything is a struggle. Everything is hard and she is easily defeated, even though she has a lot of talents and abilities. So it’s just a matter of, how you approach this stuff is going to be different in terms of your makeup. But within that, it’s this matter of, I’d say being very clear of what your intention is, what is it you want to actually do?

And then. Committing to doing it. It’s as simple as that, but, and it’s generally, the way people do it. If they want to change stuff and things are not going well, there’s this whole idea of personal efficacy and the way you do it is one step at a time. So, you know, people will. People have a lot of dreams.

Like they’re pipe dreams. They want to be billionaires or millionaires or billionaires or something like that. But that’s just a pipe dream, you know, they’re not going to do anything about it and it’s probably not going to happen. Of course, you know, they might win the lottery, they might not, but it’s not. About to happen for most people.

But in fact, if you change this stuff, as you find out what the real issue is that you want, and you move on it one step at a time it’s self-reinforcing so a little bit of success, promotes you to go further that way. And so that’s the basic tool is a, make sure you’re working on the right problem.

If you were, if you want to do something, not an abstract pipe dream, but something you really want to do. And then, make sure you have the right issue of attacking it. And that usually involves reframing. We call that. Just making sure that you’re working on the right thing. And then, Committing to doing it.

And then if there’s an issue, I say it’s the difference between trying to do something and doing something. So if you try to do something, you’ll get an obstacle. It’ll block you and you’ll give up. If you’re doing something, it doesn’t matter if you hit an obstacle, you’ll find the way around it. And often in finding a way around it, you get a more magical solution or more magical outcome than you would if the obstacle wasn’t there.

So I’ve been told by people who, you know, serial entrepreneurs and done very successful thing that almost everything they’ve done, they’ve had an obstacle. And it was this obstacle itself, which helped them overcome that. And in doing so, they got to someplace they never would have gotten before. So there’s a great story of a guy.

I met him when I first came to Stanford and he had been a swimmer and, he wanted, he was thinking about going to the Olympics. And what happened is he had an accident in the shower and he broke his back. And so he had an operation. The surgeon told him he’ll never swim competitively again.

And of course he was destroyed. And, as he got better, he, When he went to some guru who advise them and the guru said, “well, if you want to do it, do it, nobody can stop you from doing it. You know, you’re the guy who determines what you do and don’t do”. So he started training intensively in a local reservoir, and then he actually got the last place on the Olympic team.

You know, it was between him and someone else. He just squeezed it and he just got it. And he went to the Olympics and he won a gold medal and he set the world record in that sport at the time. And he came back and he put it down on the doctor’s desk and his point, and he’s a serial entrepreneur. And his point was that.

That whole experience of him told him something in his life that it just a matter of, nobody can tell you what you can and can’t do. And if you want to do it, you gotta work on it. And whatever the obstacles are, you got to get around and to them. And then he has similar stories and more prosaic.

Commercial ventures, where again, there’s always a blockage and you get around and then usually it comes to this whole idea of reframing the problem. If you blocked that’s because you’re usually working on the wrong problem. And if you reframe it, you get the right issue. It usually can go away very quickly or it’ll almost solve itself.

So that’s the kind of a framework in which I feel, I know a lot of people operate. It’s a really good framework to have. And you know, I talk about a little bit in my book, know.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah, I love it. Now, one thing that a lot, lot of people struggle with is when they first come out with this idea, it’s about, do I have partners?

How do I communicate effectively? My idea, and the reason why I think that you’re a great person to answer this is because, being at Stanford, we know that some of the biggest names when it comes to entrepreneurship has, has been at Stanford. Right. And. So for you, do you feel like that that is one of the number one things that helps people to succeed?

Is it the idea and the execution, or is it the relationships that people are able to?

Bernie Roth:

Yeah, well, it’s, it’s both, it’s funny, you know, people think, well, they have a great idea, a great invention and the world’s going to beating to their door. It doesn’t work that way. Right. Having the idea and all of that it’s useful, but it’s not.

So in fact, my friends who, I have a lot of friends who help to teach entrepreneurs and things of that notion, we started a lot of companies I’m involved in some of the call, the D-school with one of our classes, just to start launch pad, to start companies. And the people who teach that tell me, that’s what they find is that.

Yeah, it’s good to have a good idea, but really more telling them that is the company. It’s the people you work with the group. And if you have a good group of starter of people who are going to work with you to start the company, it’s much more important than having a good idea, because even if you have a bad idea, if you have a good.

Group of people you’ll, it’ll merge. It’ll eventually get to a good idea. Right? Well, a good idea with a bad group of people. Well, it’s not going to go anywhere. So really that’s the whole thing is that way. But on the other hand, it’s also to realizing we’re all different. So I, I myself, seem to have this ability to, to get along well with people and have a good, intuitive sense about it, others.

So I’m sensitive to other people, and I generally have very good the relationships with people and that’s very useful and that’s worthwile. In my work, my research and all that. There were other people who are really big son of a bitches. You know, you don’t want to, you don’t want to deal with that. Probably they’re one of those.

and you won’t like them, you know, and they’re successful. So it’s really hard to say. You know, some of the big names the most, I don’t want to mention it. The names on your program with some of the most famous people are not people that, even their friends don’t like them. You know what I mean? They’re not people that are nice to work with no of that, but they’re very driven and they’re successful.

You know, they, they, they have a vision and they have success. So I’d say it’s really, you can’t really generalize. Totally. And a lot goes with your personality, what you feel good. So I would feel really awful being a big. Son of a bitch and hard to work with kind of person. It just doesn’t fit my self image.

Other guys, that’s their self image. And the nastier you think they are the happier they are? So a lot depends on your self image and all that, but in general, and you know, if you’re having an extraordinary talent and extraordinary drive, probably you can get away with a lot. And if, if you have less, you probably can get away with less.

But in general, the idea is it’s much better to, to, to, to have a really good functioning team. And it’s really important who you work with. And I would vote that way. Temperamentally.

Casanova Brooks:

Got it. I love it. Now. Some of the biggest entrepreneurs, like you said, so many people that have different ideas.

What would you say as these are ideas have brought across your desk, your desk, your table, and you’re analyzing them and you just have an opinion, whether it’s right or wrong or whatever, I wanted to see if there’s anything that you feel like there’s a common trait on what you’ve seen, why certain people have succeeded versus certain people have not.

Bernie Roth:

Yeah. Well, I think it has to do with this personality thing. It hasn’t, as I say. I don’t think it’s the idea per se, it’s the drive. It’s the person. it’s, it’s commitment that to have the intention, to do it, to give it the attention requires and that makes it go. It’s not so much. there are a lot of good ideas around that. Don’t go anywhere.

And why the ones that go, and some bad ideas someplace. So why, why, what is that all about? Well, I do think it has to do with this inner resolve and those people who are involved in it and that’s end good luck, you know, dumb luck, you know, just things like that, or just some. A guy was over.

I had some friends over yesterday just for a socially appropriate distance, a glass of wine. And one of them from Ireland, he was saying, you know, he went, he had a, he in a pot and they had an idea and they went, it was one day he went to the bank and they took all the money. They had the family, he got a check and they got a check and they took it to a third bank where they started a company.

And then they went home and told their wives and wives, and they really went crazy because they took everything they had and they invested in this thing. It turns out it turned out okay. That made out very well on this thing, but it was this whole idea. It’s a crazy thing to do. Not everybody will do that.

Right. Not even mentioned it to your wife, take all the money you have and put her into some idea. So they had kind of driven guy and is a very successful guy, this friend of mine. So it’s an example. There’s something there that most people don’t do. Okay. It turns awful, you know, when they commit suicide, you know, not every story has a happy ending, but, there are a lot of these things of luck.

You know, I find that almost anything in my life, including my biggest financial win with the company and all that was by accident. In other words It wasn’t planned. So there was a phone call. There was an opportunity. And I said, yes, they could have been there many phone calls and opportunities where I said, no.

Okay. I don’t have any idea how those would have turned out, but I would say all the big things like it. Stanford’s a great example. I actually had a job at Columbia university and I was. Going to start. I’d finished my PhD and I was going to start in the fall and in August, I got a, I had applied previously.

I hadn’t heard from various schools and I got a call from Stanford. Why don’t you come out for an interview? And it was August. I was going to start September labor day to school, start in New York. So I was going to start to be a assistant professor at Columbia in labor day, essentially. Right.

Well world, Oh, your free trip to California is no way I’ll take the job, but let me go have a nice vacation. Take my wife, leave the kids with someone and go, go have a nice time in California for a week or so. So we went and I met a guy here who was extraordinary, who was very different and you know, I thought it’d be really, they offered me a job and I thought, you know, it’d be really interesting to work with this guy.

So I went back and I begged my way off as Columbia and they were very nice about it. And within two weeks I was packed up and in California and then the guy died a year after I got here and I was left on my own. All that turned out to be marvelous. Okay. Now I couldn’t have planned any of it. Or if I’d stayed in New York, I probably would have had a great life too.

It’s not that it’s either/or, but I’m just saying those are like big pivotal things in my life. I’d been here over 50 years, you know, other than my Bronx accent, you know, I’m will, I’m a California guy. Yep. So that was a big change, but there’ve been other changes also in my life like that. And they came from just like literally a phone call, which if it hadn’t happened, that changed whatever never occur and also big financial things, you know?

So, and that’s so, and Washington said, Oh yeah, you ought to talk to Bernie Roth. So he talks to me and. Things led to some, so it’s just life is that way. It’s just a matter of opportunities and, you know, being prepared as good of course, but it also, you just have to be lucky. A lot of things are dumb luck, really.

I find, and it could have not happened. Maybe something else would have happened. I don’t. It’s not a, it’s not a zero sum game. I think you can, you can be happy in many ways. If you lucky about that, in my field, lucky in and it isn’t that my life doesn’t have a lot of negative things in it. You know, my mother’s death is all sorts of illnesses.

Like everyone’s life. It isn’t that nothing bad has happened. A lot of bad things have happened in my life, but I don’t get knocked down by them. I just, they’re just part of life, you know, you just accept this with the good and the bad. And so that depends so much on you. You know, if you’re going to get knocked down, anything bad happens, you’re going to have trouble getting up.

Right.

Casanova Brooks:

I love it. And, and that goes back to the point of saying, life is not happening to you. It’s happening for you. Right. And, and I love the fact that you, you you’ve been open about the fact that so many things have happened as far as luck. And I always say, when I’m speaking, I say that when hard work meets opportunity, it looks a lot like luck.

A lot of people don’t don’t understand that they are already going through the grind, putting in that hard work. And you’re just looking for that one door to be opened up. Do you think that you can create your own luck?

Bernie Roth:

Yeah. Well, they say, if, you know, if you talked to people about this, the party line is you have to be prepared.

So when something comes your way, if you prepare for it, it makes a lot of sense, you know? So, you know, I don’t know if you saw. This movie about Lawrence of Arabia. Did you ever see that movie?

Casanova Brooks:

I don’t think I have, but definitely tell us about it

Bernie Roth:

Based on a true story. And it ends up the same Englishman is sort of the lead of the Arab rebellion against the Turkish.

Occupy is that part of the world. And it’s a historical thing. And it said like his whole life was in preparations. That was, he had learned Arabic, which most englishmen don’t, he had spent many years in the desert. He was like acetic. And he had like a lot of these skills, which all came together and did that. Okay. And I sometimes feel the same thing about myself, not on that scale, of course, but a thing I’m doing now, I’m.

So call the academic directors of these schools and it takes a whole bunch of skills and it turns out most of those skills I already had. Even though I never had done a job like that before. And it was felt like at times that my whole life was in preparation for this, not that I was preparing for it.

So that’s the way it is. We all have a bunch of things. We learn, whatever it is. And if we’re lucky, something will come up where we can apply all that and it’ll feel like so natural. Okay. And if not, we feel we’re in the wrong place and a lot of people, unfortunately, but that’s all, it’s dumb luck and chance, but you can be prepared.

I mean, you can do other things than just sit and watch TV all day long. Although apparently a guy became president doing that. Right. That’s a skill set. That’s good for him, but basically it depends. It depends what you do. And if you have a lot of things you can adapt and you learn. So it just a matter of just.

Enjoying being able to do stuff and not looking as everything as a burden. So if you look at everything as a burden, you know, it pushes you down to the ground. If you look at everything as an opportunity, that’s a big Silicon Valley thing, right? Yeah. There are no problems. Everything is an opportunity.

Casanova Brooks:

Everything is figure-out-able

Bernie Roth:

so that’s, that’s the enlightened people’s view of it, but it is, you know, it’s a little hokey and a little bit clannish to view that way. And I’m not in any way, you know, I know people have a lot of real problems in life and issues in life and not everyone has, has it easy.

But there is something nice about that view. To just reframe problems as opportunities. And they really are in a way to do that. And, and the opposite view is to just be put pushed down by it that, you know, you have this big load on your back and there’s nothing you can do. So you might as well just.

Make yourself drunk or, you know, get yourself in some other space chemically and just ignore it. And you know, that could be useful also, but it’s not, it’s not really building to anything. And if you can actually take the problem and. Approach. If you, if you trying to do it, it just doesn’t go. Obviously you don’t have the right approach to it.

So you have what we call, reframe the problem. And if you reframe it, then it may be an opportunity that takes you to someplace. And there are a lot of, you know, there are thousands of stories in the world of people done that your, your, your own story is that way. Is that a good example of, you know, you took when you were in a really.

Bad shape. You took it and turned it into something which has made you something proud of. So it’s that, and that’s, there’s a lot of stories like that and you know, a lot of stories go the other way. So it’s your call, you know, it really is your call. It’s not preordained in my view. and it’s, and it’s not one answer and there are people who.

Do it, and then you can always think of it as a struggle, or you can think of it as what life’s about. You know,

Casanova Brooks:

I love it. I love it. And the thing that stuck out to me and you dropped so much value right there, but you talked about being prepared. Right. And there’s something that I learned, but it says, you know, when people are poor, why they say poor, poor doesn’t mean money, because if you don’t have any money, that just means that you’re broke poor means “passing over opportunities repeatedly”.

Right. And just like you said, by the number of phone calls that you’ve gotten there, that you’ve passed over, butthere’s some that you’ve taken that call and you just made the jump. So it’s about being prepared. And the thing that I loved about it was instantly, I thought about like the greatest quarterbacks and right.

Tom Brady has been a great quarterback. Arguably the greatest, but they prepare for that two minute warning. Right? So at the end of that game, the fourth quarter, they’ve prepared this so many times that then when they’re in the moment.

Bernie Roth:

Yeah. Well, that’s what people don’t understand. Like even if you take like the most famous best, these guys are.

Practicing all the time. I mean, you know, they’ve been doing this to say kids, you think I know how to shoot a ball. And they as pros, they’re still practicing all the time. And it’s this thing that it’s, it’s a thing of having, given me the attention it requires and the people who are excellent. You know, you may be blessed with a good body.

You may be favored certain abilities. And you have to do stuff. You have to take it. What level of you are and that people don’t realize it’s not, it’s not that it’s hard. It’s just, you have to do it. And it could be fun doing it or not. You know, it depends on your attitude, but it’s not like people aren’t doing stuff.

So, you know, people are writing books or staying up all night, writing books. It isn’t, doesn’t just come like that. People, people are doing stuff, but they generally. There may be a little pain in it, but really there being nurtured by that activity in some way. And that’s what you want to get to, and it’s not free.

It knows you have to do it. And if you do it, you might as well do it in the way that you like it. And it empowers you rather than a way that drags you down and you get this attitude. You know, I had that in school, the attitude, you know, Homework. That’s such a drag to do that unless they make you do it and stuff.

And you know, it, it became a pleasure then, because I was proud. Let me get up on the board and show you, I solved this problem. And you know, it’s just your head. Well, your head is, where your head is at is really important to a lot of this stuff. And, that determines a lot of way where you go.

Casanova Brooks:

I love it. I love it. Over the last year, you’ve obviously been exposed to so many things right over the last 50, 60, 70 years.

Well, when it comes to an, obviously you’ve read and listened to a lot of things and the particular medium of book reads, because we always love to share wisdom. Has there been any book in the last. Let’s say five years, that’s really inspired you. And you always recommend to anyone who reaches out that they’re trying to blaze their own path, that this is a great foundational book to start with.

Bernie Roth:

Yeah, well, the two there’s one book that Beryl Markham is the author, it’s been out of print for a while, but it’s a, I think Ernest Hemingway said it was his favorite book and it’s something out of the, West Into The Night Beryl Markham was the author. So I always recommend that as a really just well-written book that talks to people, but has nothing to do with the things we’re talking about. The things we’re talking about, the book I found most inspirational in my own life is one called The Adjusted American, which is also out of print and it was a mission to buy for like

50 cents and both authors are dead. I did meet one of them several years before she died, but it’s a book essentially. That inspired me to write my book. and there’s a book about, human behavior written by sociologists and all these just at American. So it’s a kind of, it’s funny, I’m giving my book talks.

One guy raises. He says, you know, that book when I grew up, that was the favorite book in my household, but it’s a book that didn’t get a lot of play when it was out there. But I, and it’s very, It’s kind of hard to read nowadays because it’s written the way people wrote books 50 years ago, and it’s very sexist written by a, basically by a woman it’s very male oriented language and the examples of stick figures that are very cliche.

You have passed all that, which is a good lesson for get past that stuff and to look at what the real content is rather than the form. There’s a lot of wisdom in there. I found Casanova Brooks:

Got it. Well, yeah, we’ll definitely, I’m sure it’s always good to have different perspectives. And I think you’ll put it in a way, right? If you can get past the messenger and just listen to look at the message, there might be one or two nuggets that you apply and the rest of them, you might say, Hey, that’s not, you know, that doesn’t stay with my values.

My morals overall, it’s good to always have a different perspective.

Bernie Roth:

Yeah.

Casanova Brooks:

So for someone right now who is listening to you and they love what you’ve been able to accomplish. And they think that you have a lot of wisdom and nuggets and they want to blaze the path similar to this, but they have that little voice in their head.

That little voice that says that they’re not strong enough. They’re not smart enough or maybe they just don’t have enough resources. What would be the one thing that you would say that person to get them to just take action?

Bernie Roth:

Sure. Before I answer that, they say everyone should find their bliss.

Well, how do you find the bliss? You don’t know which drawer to look at to find your bliss. So how you find your bliss is to do stuff. And to try stuff. And I believe you’ll, if you’re lucky it’ll happen onto something which really talks to you or resonates to you, but it all gets down to not sitting and just smoking a joint and thinking about dreaming, what you’re going to be.

It’s a matter of doing stuff. And so you have to do thing. You have to engage in different things. And if you do a little bit at a time, you get a reward, you feel positive and eventually you become. Great. I remember I, when I graduated, I had to, I had to learn something about some subjects. So I got a book and I read it and I didn’t understand a word really.

It was tough math book and beyond me, but I needed this stuff. So I read it again. I started on the third time and about, two years later, I was the world’s expert in that stuff. Well, I started from zero from negative, do you understand?, but it just something I needed and I persevered with it and I got it. And I think that’s true with everything.

I’m nobody, you know, these guys, all these people here who started the Google boys or all that, they didn’t start with that. You know, they stumbled into it. One step at a time. They didn’t even know what they were going to do. I remember one of them will all, how are you going to commercialize this algorithm?

You have? He said, I have no idea. Well, this whole idea of,

Casanova Brooks:

did you meet him before Google got big? Did you know them?

Bernie Roth:

I did know. I knew who they were. I didn’t know them personally, but my friend was the advisor of one of them. Good friend, in computer science. So, but he, he tells me, yes. How are you going to come ahead soon, came with this good idea about this algorithm, how come they had no idea.

Okay. And, but they found out that. Done very well with it. Okay. So that’s the idea. You don’t know, you don’t have the whole thing. When we started the D-school, we had ideas about it, but as we went with change, so what we do now and what we have now is a far cry from what we started and I could have never imagined where we would be and all the people are involved.

If you can’t see the whole thing to begin with, you take one little step and it creates something another step, another step, another step. And you change as you go along. It’s just saying, well, you know, when I shut down to write my book, I had no, I had three books in mind. I wasn’t sure what I said. Well, I’m going to start on September 1st.

I sat down. This thing put out and that, you know, developed and was very satisfying with it, but it’s just of this kind of thing. You could sit forever until the right moment comes, it will never come, and they only moment is right now and something, you have to do it. And it’s okay. You know, we say, if you fail, it’s okay.

If you learn from it. So we call it failing forward. So the thing about fail failure or, you know, stuff not working, it could be a blessing. It gives you a good lesson, which way to go. And you can’t get there unless you try out stuff and move ahead. So the name of the game is to do stuff and learn from what you’re doing and then adjust.

And hopefully you’ll get somewhere. And if not there’s was the journey. That was the fun. Anyway, what the, hell’s the difference? Where do you end is that we all know where the end is. You’re going to die, right? We’re all going to die. Hopefully I’ll die all along and before you do, cause you’re much younger than me, but you know, we all died and.

That’s the end. So the question is what do you do with the journey? And you get to control that. And it’s so interesting how some people make it a magnificent thing. And for others, it’s a horrible experience.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah, I love it. There’s so much, it’s true. So much knowledge in there. And it reminds me of one of the stories of the King’s men and his horse.

And it’s basically the tale of who knows what’s good or what’s bad. Right. And, and we often attach an emotion to something. And we don’t know, you know, at the end of theday, this isn’t the end of your road. Right. It’s just where you are right now. But things will change different seasons, you know, and different reasons of why they changed.

So you just have to take. The good with the bad and understand that. Just like you said, there’s a lesson out of everything. And one of the things that I always do, my friends and family is “regret. weighs tons, but failure only weighs ounces”, regret weighs tons. So, and the moral of the story is, you know, it’s better to have tried it and failed than I’ve never tried it at all and have regret because at the end of the day, you can’t get the time back.

Bernie Roth:

Absolutely. Well, you know, you give everything in your life, its meaning. So something happened. Okay. And then you could spend the rest of your life regretting it. Or you could just, it happened and go on and never think about it again. You get to control what you do about that and everything is that way you nothing has an intrinsic meaning.

And it’s so interesting that, some people think it’s must be that way or the way I see it as true. And it’s so distorted by your experience, your genetic input for going back millions of generations, you know, w so. Kind of not a objective observers of the world is impossible to be an objective observer of the world, because we are who we are.

So everything gets filtered through a, just the mechanical ability of our senses and to a brain processing, all that stuff. And our eyes by the time, whatever comes in, gets to the back of our head, we’ve changed it in so many ways. Well, it’s totally, it’s kind of arbitrary. You’re making up all this stuff and you call it your real life.

Casanova Brooks:

I love it for anybody who wants to stay connected with you, where can they find you at.

Bernie Roth:

Well, I’m at Stanford. I have this webpage about my book, which is called www.achievementhabit.com

One word, that’s a good place to look and otherwise they could find me at Stanford and [email protected],com is my email. Yeah. Yeah.

Casanova Brooks:

And we’ll make sure that we have all of those links in the show notes for people to be able to find you. But I want to be the first one to kick off the thank you train.

This has been an amazing conversation, and I appreciate you coming on here, sharing your wisdom, sharing your backstory and sharing how someone else can take this whatever journey. That they are on, they can take the same obstacles just like you had in the beginning. And they could turn it into a life that they’re proud of.

So remember DreamNation, just as he said in the dream, you got to trust, but you have to be a doer because otherwise it’ll only merely be a fantasy. We’ll catch you on the next one.

Bernie Roth:

Yeah. Thank you. Casanova. It’s been a delight being with you really.

Casanova Brooks:

Thank you!

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