LNC 5 | Tremendous Tracey

 

Probably everyone in the network marketing space knows the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. Even years after his death, his ideas are continuously inspiring businesses and individuals. Stepping in to take care of his legacy, his daughter, Dr. Tracey C. Jones, moved to the leadership space to help companies have a deeper understanding of the workplace. In this episode, she joins host John Solleder to share with us the incredible upbringing and journey she has — from what it is like to be raised by people who really influenced and created the self-development movement to making the pivot to the space from the Air Force. Tracey imparts some of the lessons she learned along the way, giving us golden nuggets about the difference between a leader and engaging in leadership and the five essentials to ignite your greatness within through her book, Spark.

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Tremendous Tracey

Dr. Tracey Jones, how are you?

I’m a tremendous, John Solleder. How are you doing?

I’m much better now. Tracey, you’ve had an amazing life. I have tremendous respect for so many things that you’ve done. Let’s go through a couple of them, so our audience gets to know you better. I know you were raised first of all, by one of the people who influenced and created this self-development movement, as we know. The great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is your dad. Do you want to tell us a little bit about him?

He was tremendous. He was a person that loved life and he was so down-to-earth and real because he came from a tough background, but he had this resiliency that was infectious. He was a salesman of unsurpassed excellence. He had that star quality. Sometimes you see stars and when you get close to them, you’re like, “They have charisma, but they’re not nice people.” He was the real deal. What drew you into his orbit, was like basking in the warmth of the sun. He taught me growing up. It doesn’t matter where you start, you read, you work hard, hang around great people and you stay away from the trash as friends and don’t read trash and work hard. He combined work and fun.

It was a weird upbringing. We were like little Guinea pigs. He tried all these crazy parenting things on us like locking up all the TVs, taking them all away because we didn’t need to watch that crap, which is very progressive. More parents should do that now. Our family vacations where he’d pack us all up in an RV of various sizes and as he got more successful, they got bigger. In the beginning, it was a Volkswagen pop-up camper with six of us, two adults and books driving from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, all the way down in Mexico City, Mexico doing his meetings all along the way and up. Those were our vacations. It was different and it was a lot of fun. The greatest thing was John, as a young child, I got exposed to sit under the tutelage of people like Zig Ziglar, Ken Blanchard, OG Mandino and Jim Rohn. Sitting there as a little girl in the front row, watching these people, touch people and show them that you can live a great life. That’s probably the greatest thing that he could have exposed me to.

Needless to say, any of those people you mentioned, what is a classroom that would be to talk to any of those people?

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They were so down to earth and there was no pretentiousness because we get to go hang out with them because they were dad’s friends. There was no don’t approach the table. They’re sitting here. It was very, “We’re here,” and they’d see people and they’d hug them and they’d laugh and share thoughts with them. Dad would say, “Come eat dinner with us.” It was all so authentic, fluid and beautiful.

Those were great experiences. After that, you decided to go and serve your country. I know you went to the United States Air Force Academy. Tell us about that a little bit.

I did well, when you grow up with somebody that is a motivational speaker, you got to carve out your niche. He would always tell me, “Tracey, you got to earn your stripes.” He wasn’t military. He was a diehard Patriot. What he meant was you can’t live in my shadow. Every man, woman on this planet needs to go out and carve their destiny. I was always very aware of this. To a teenager’s mind, I thought, “Where can I go where I earn my worth based on who I am, not that I’m somebody’s daughter.” I thought of the military because even if you’re Patton’s son, you have to start a second lieutenant. There is no jumping ahead. “That’s the boss’s son, so now he’s a vice president at 22 with no experience.” There is none of that.

I went into the military, he also had gone down to Roswell, New Mexico. This is before there were aliens. The X-Files was down there and he went down and shared at a New Mexico Military Institute, which was an Army Junior College and High School. He came back one day and he laid their pamphlets on the table and he said, “Tracey, these kids are going to make something with their lives.” That’s all I needed. He would challenge me and that’s why I was the Guinea pig. I’m like, “I’m game. I’ll give it a shot.” I applied and got in there and I already had been at college, so I got my associate of arts there.

They’re like, “You graduated, what do you want to do next?” I’m like, “I don’t know.” They’re like, “We have West Point.” It was an Army School of Annapolis. I’ve heard of them. They said, within the Air Force Academy is in Colorado Springs and I had fallen in love with the West. I should have been a cowgirl. He had always had Western wear and gear. We were always out West and Grand Canyon and Knott’s Berry Farm and he was a cowboy. I’m like, “I want to stay out West.” That’s how it happened.

I’ve been on all the campuses of all the academies and by far, the Air force Academy is the most beautiful.

Pivot with purpose, not out of pain. Click To Tweet

My husband went to Annapolis, so he swears Annapolis is charming, but I grew up in the space era watching the launch and hearing, “I always want to be an astronaut.” I went to Epcot and saw Spaceship Earth and was like, “This is the world of the future.” When I saw the Air Force Academy, I was like, “This is the place for me.”

You went into the Air Force and then you served. Were you in Afghanistan?

The first Gulf War. This is before Afghanistan. I got commissioned in 1988 and worked on fighter jets F-15s and F-16s. I went to the first Gulf War and then the Bosnian War. I did twelve years. I didn’t plan on staying in that long, but it was such a wonderful experience and living all over the world, the Middle East and Europe. At the twelve-year point, I got out in 2000. I thought, “Let’s do something radically different,” because as I said, I’m like a Guinea pig. I’m like, “Let’s try something completely different.” I moved to Austin, Texas and got into the booming semiconductor industry. I lived there for five years as a project manager. That was cool. That was a lot of fun.

Your dad gets sick and eventually passes away, but before he passes away, he made some decisions in terms of the business that he had spent his lifetime building. Share a little bit about what happened with that story.

For those of you out there that are in any family business or second or third generation and you’re like, we’re not sure what’s going to happen. I want to give a word of peace to you, neither did we. There was no real succession planning. My father set up a trust with nothing in it, other than no debt and vehicle to make money. There was property in it. You pointed me into his friends as trustees, but other than that, the business was something he had done. It wasn’t obvious. I had talked on and off throughout my life and his life about coming back, but it wasn’t the right timing. Plus, we were very similar and it wouldn’t have been the right time for it because of how he approached things and how I would approach things because he’s a sales guy and I’m operations.

Anybody that’s been in any manufacturing, “Sales promise this.” We’re where the rubber meets the road and the sales guys are promising the world. There’s that beautiful tension. I came back, but I kept waiting for him to ask me if I was coming back and he never asked me, John. Two days before he passed, I said, “Dad, I’m going to come back.” It wasn’t so much John, as I left home at seventeen. I knew he was big, but I didn’t know how big he was. Although I wasn’t part of it as he was growing the business, I respected so much what he had done.

LNC 5 | Tremendous Tracey

Tremendous Tracey: You can work for somebody else, or you can work for yourself. But as long as you work for somebody else, you’re always going to hit the wall where you go.

 

I thought, “I’m just going to take a hiatus,” I was in defense contracting in DC at that time in St. Louis and I said, “I’m going to come back home. I’m going to take a year. I’m going to make sure that everything that he has built is taken care of because there wasn’t anybody to come in and pick it up.” We had the trust, but that was it. I came back and thought, “I want to make sure that what he has spent his whole life doing because it was such a beautiful thing, either we find a way to keep it going. I find somebody to take the race to the next generation or I put a beautiful bow on it and say, ‘That was fabulous.’” Here we are many years later by the grace of God trekking along with the tremendous legacy and it’s been fun.

As I said, I left home at seventeen. I knew of him but I didn’t know that much about him. As much as I love and respect my dad, when you’re growing up with somebody, you’re like Jesus at the temple. They’re like, “Isn’t that little Joseph’s son? Who’s going to listen to him?” A prophet has never appreciated it in his land or by his own family. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” The great joy has been getting to know him. I look forward to an eternity of spending it with him and sharing the things that I got to pick up and run with.

It was a tremendous foundation, no doubt. I think I’m experiencing a little bit of that on my end, even with my kids. They have no idea what dad does for a living. They’re like, “He sells something. He’s in multilevel. He writes some books once in a while.” He doesn’t know who goes to him for advice. A lot of people have set my kids.

For your readers out there, take time and ask your parents what they do and listen to them. My dad was a genius and I knew he was kooky. I knew he was fun. He was a genius. I missed so much. I get to find it now because we have books. I kicked myself and God redeems everything. I know where he is and I’m going to get to see him again. We’re all knuckleheads growing up. For the listeners out there, if you’re blessed enough to still have your parents around, find out what they do. You might be pretty impressed.

Your dad passes away. You have this business that you don’t anything about at that point. Certainly, all is great military training and everything else. You had been all over the world and all of a sudden, it’s like, “Come back to Pennsylvania and run a business that you don’t have an interest in at that point.” It’s dad’s legacy and as you said, you can wrap it up but you realize the value because I was a customer of your father. That’s how I knew your father. A lot of us in the network marketing world, all knew Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, maybe not even personally, but we all were customers of the company. He was giving such great value with so many great titles and authors. We all knew the company and we were all buying products from it on a regular basis. You figured out pretty quick, like, “This is much more than just a business. This has some real social value and business value to a lot of people.”

John, you hit the nail on the head. My dad used to say this to me, “Tracey, you can work for somebody else or you can work for yourself. As long as you work for somebody else, you’re always going to hit the wall where you go, ‘This is it. There’s so much more I could be doing,’ but it’s not your company. You can only take it so far.” I was in five different industries living all over the world and I’m like, “Dad, this is it.” A year later, I’m like, “It’s the same poop, different day.” He’s like, “You’re working for somebody else’s dream.”

If you’re made in God’s image, how can you be down? Click To Tweet

The other thing was John, I’m an engineer by nature. I’m very analytical. I was very dichotomous. I’m like, “There are the sales network marketing people and there are the facts process people. There the two shall meet.” I am so dumb on my part to assume that they couldn’t be blended. That was that where I finally thought. I was so burnt out to twenty years of working for a wonderful, huge defense of the country, changing the world through technology and our national security. These are great things and I was so burnt out from bad leadership, not having my heart and things, and wondering, “When I meet my maker, am I going to say I built $4 million of chip-making.” I felt so unfulfilled. I came back home and was like, “This is my only option.” It was a beautiful thing to see it and go, “Now I get to do stuff that has eternal value.”

That was many years ago. It’s amazing. We met now, it was probably about four years ago. You had published our book Moving Up – 2020, which we published in 2019 and we started working on retooling it in 2018. I think that’s about when we started to talk about it on a regular basis and became friends and all of that. I’m happy from a personal standpoint that you decided to go to this course and continue your dad’s legacy with the business. A lot of other people are as well. You’ve blessed a lot of people with not only his legacy but your own because you’ve created your own in our industry of direct selling or network marketing or multi-level or whatever you want to call it, self-development. Many other people use self-development books. Let’s talk about that a little bit because our recent book, Leave Nothing to Chance is getting a life of its own. It’s interesting. You put these things together, as you well know from all the books you’ve authored but, in that book, when you first read our script, which one of the principles kind of grabbed you?

The first thing that grabbed me and for those of you that haven’t read the book, the story of John and Foster and you got to trust somebody and you got to know there’s a value congruence there. I knew of you, I didn’t know nearly as much about Foster, but to understand where your convictions and values, where I was like, “Respect to my peep.” It was so wonderful. That’s the first part of it and there are two that in hand and for different reasons. The first one to me was principle, two, listen to your reason. It’s the heart of the matter. One of the reasons when I finally realized why my father never asked me to come to take over the business was, he knew it had to be my decision.

What else would a daughter on his deathbed, if a father asked a child, would you come back and run the business? They’re going to say yes, even if they don’t feel it. He didn’t tell me that because he knew I had to be the one, my heart had to be in it. When I came to him two days before he immigrated to heaven and I said, “I’m going to come back.” He squeezed my hand and he whispered because he couldn’t talk anymore. He said, “I know you’ll take it to places I could never have gone.” That was it. That was the whole hand-off. One of those things was he knew running your own show is great, but you’re dealing with people and its life on earth.

There are always going to be problems. I think he knew that as I got into all the intricacies of running an existing second-generation family business or in a field that I wasn’t unfamiliar with, he knew there’d be days where I’d question it. As long as he knew it was my decision to come back and do this, I would always go, “I may want to quit, but I’m not going to quit because I made this commitment. My heart is in it.” I think for anybody out there, when you go all into something, you’re unstoppable. You’re so single-minded of purpose and mindset and it takes time. In the beginning, I just did it because I was very fiercely and loyal to my father’s reputation and brand. I did it more to put a hedge of protection around it, but then I realized that it’s more than that.

I have to be completed all in with this personal development industry or I can’t do it. I think once your heart is in it, you’re unstoppable. You don’t care about nos. You wake up, you hit the ground running in the morning. You wake up in the middle of the night because you get some great ideas because you’re all in. If you don’t see value in it, it won’t last. If you’re doing this because your friend told you, “You need another means of income. You need to do this.” You pivot with purpose, not out of pain because when you pivot on purpose, that’s when it sticks. That’s my number one thing. The second one is as important as principle nine, showing love for others because the Bible clearly says, what’s the first greatest commandment, “Love the Lord with all your heart and love others.”

LNC 5 | Tremendous Tracey

Leave Nothing to Chance: 15 Principles for Success and the Stories that Inspired Them

You’re in a field where you’re recruiting people to promote a product you’re selling. When you realize that you love people and you love giving them freedom and you love restoring health to them, it’s, you’re not selling them anything. It’s that you care so much about them. It’s like the gospel, you can’t but help telling them about it. I think with personal development, even with publishing John, even talking to you, when I hear some people’s messages like yours, I love it so much. I look and see this message needs to get out to people and two other people. It’s not about, “If I sign this many authors and I make this much money I can live on.”

It’s about our love for getting wonderful transformational messages out to humanity. I’d say the two of them are knowing your focus and then you got to have love because even if you have your focus, it’s a tough world out there. There are some mean people and nasty people along the way you’re going to meet. Not to mention the crack you get from being in certain industries, you’re this and that. People second-guessing you and judging you. Without love, you get pretty hard.

Let me go back to Paul’s words to the Corinthians. The most important thing, it’s hard sometimes in business. There are days and there are people and there are circumstances. Let’s talk about that a little bit more. You grew up around books. Go back in time. What was the first book that grabbed the young Tracey and said, “Let me read this? Let me reread it. Let me mark it up because it’s that valuable? What was the first one?”

We always read up so I can remember. There are a couple of books I clearly remember reading. My dad was always like, “You need to read biographies or personal development,” even as a kid. Now he did let us touch some fiction and I’m going to hit on one of those books. The one thing I loved was Hinds’ Feet on High Places, which is very Pilgrim’s Progress-ish. It was all about little Much-Afraid. It’s a metaphor about going through life and the bad things that can happen. We have our heavenly father. That was a beautiful parable that as a young child and as a young Christian, it let me know, “In life, you’re going to go through certain hurdles. There’s going to be bad things that happen, but it’s all par for the course, and you are protected.”

That was very important for me and why I was very non-risk averse, why I would go to war? Why I’m the first volunteer for anything, because I’m like, “We only have one life?” If this life gets extinguished and it does for all of us then we transition over to eternal life and perfect bodies. I get to be the astronaut I always wanted to be. That was one of them. Pilgrim’s Progress was pivotal. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I was always like, “Even if I feel like having a bad attitude, I’m made in God’s image. How can I be down?” That was a really big one.

The other one was Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics. I read that as a kid. It was pivotal. For those of don’t know him, he was a plastic surgeon, a cosmetic surgeon for 40 years, and finally realized, “You can’t fix people from the outside. You can only fix people from the inside out,” which this day would be pure heresy. That taught me it’s all about here. The other one, my other favorite author as a kid was C.S. Lewis. I read his Space Trilogy. The first one was Out of the Silent Planet, which was profound for me because it had such religious symbolism in it.

There is a world of difference between being a leader and engaging in leadership. Click To Tweet

What it taught me for those of you that read it is, “The silent planet is earth and the rest of the heavens, there was only one begotten son.” That means there’s only one planet that fell and was living on it. I thought that was so cool that we have this God that created the whole universe and we know what happened in our space. We know it’s temporary. We already read Revelations 21 and 22. We know how this is going to end, but that was also cool to help me realize that you have to understand the nature of a fallen man because otherwise, you go through life and you can’t wrap your head around some of the things that go on. You can’t truly love people because the only way we’re capable of doing that is through Christ. Those were the books early on that a lot of parables, a lot of allegories and deeply religious theological themes about God Christ laying down his life for us. No matter what we were going through, we always had him around us and advocating for us. That was pretty big as a child coming up.

That’s quite a reading list, to say the least. Lewis had a big impact on me too. To appeal for that matter, because the first book I ever on self-development was Dr. Peale. I was in the hospital in New York about twelve blocks from the Crystal Collegiate Marble Church. We went one Sunday and we got to hear him preach. I was seventeen at the time. He was an old man. One of the things he has in that book is, “If you think you have problems, go stand outside the local funeral home or nursing home.”

You put it in perspective and work backward from there. Whatever problem you have, as long as you’re upright, you’re probably going to solve it. We have a lot in common as far as that. Lewis’ statement about the fact that we read to know we’re not alone. For everything you do for a living and I do for a living and we’ll try to get people to read. All leaders are readers. Let’s talk about that a little bit. You made a decision a few years ago after all this fast education and life experience. With a business to run every single day, to go back to school and get another degree in leadership. Where did you do that? Tell us a little bit about it.

In 2015, I made the decision to go back and earn my PhD in leadership through Lancaster Bible College. I had been on the board of Lancaster Bible College since I came back home in 2009 and Lancaster, Pennsylvania is where my parents met. My father was born in Alabama. My mom’s Mennonite from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lancaster was always a beautiful space because that’s where my parents met each other. It’s where my older brothers and sisters were born. I was on the board and I knew they were rolling out a PhD program. One of the things I had always wanted, John, since I was a little girl, was a PhD. As I came back, I don’t know why. There were times where I almost flunked out of school because I didn’t see the value in it.

I’m a much better student now, but I just started thinking, “If I’m going to be writing on leadership and speaking on leadership, I noticed a lot of people in the audience had PhDs.” I thought, “If I’m going to be a subject matter expert, I should earn the terminal degree.” I did. I went back and started in 2015 and the other thing was John, I had been back running the business for about six years and I was confused as to what I was supposed to be doing. I didn’t feel I was getting any traction. I thought, “I’m going to take this time and I’m going to go back to school.” I did the same thing back from 2004 to 2006 when I got my MBA. That’s when the tech was booming and then it really sunk and then it would boom. It was sunk.

During one of the sinking times, I’m like, “I’m going back to school.” I thought, “I don’t know where to go in the future but I do know right now I’m going to invest in my learning and I want the PhD.” I want that credibility. I want to put the mental grit. I want to go through the process. I earned it back in 2019 in leadership. I got to dive in and study something that was very interesting to me, which is followership.

LNC 5 | Tremendous Tracey

SPARK: 5 Essentials to Ignite the Greatness Within

It’s interesting too because certainly, with the military background and the father that you had and the mother that you had, the upbringing that you had, you were around leadership constantly. Sometimes it may be forced, but at the end of the day, you were around leadership and it’s interesting to go and study. Give one of those Saul of Tarsus moments where you’re going like, “I lived that already and now I’m learning about it,” but lived this gate. Give me one of those.

Here’s the biggest thing. I’m about three years into it and I’m studying it. I loved hearing the theory behind leadership because the theory is built on grounded research. It’s not pie in the sky. To write your PhD, you have to go out and study something. You can’t talk about it and say, “This person said these.” Opinions don’t matter in dissertations. Everything must be cited and grounded. One of the things before I even started that I realized, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. There is a world of difference between being a leader and engaging in leadership. I know for those of you out there, you may be like, “How could you not know that?” I was so used to keeping my running my own self as my own ship, but that’s not what leadership is about.

I had my stuff squared away and I was conscientious. I was a good leader, but I didn’t understand the process of leadership, which is not about my skill set but honing in on who are the best people that I need. If I’m the captain of the ship, I have to make sure that I recruit and train and correct and rebuke, the people to be on the team. That was pivotal for me. I’m like, “I finally get it,” because every time I would hear about leadership, I would put it in my lens about how I would process it. It doesn’t matter. I am just one, a leader. We all have to be at least a leader of our own selves. We’re all leaders, but leadership is you’re on the ship of a ton of leaders.

You’ve got all these other people so you have to act as cohesive organizational citizenship, where it’s no longer about any one person, but about this collective. It hit me. I felt bad for a little, because I thought, “How stupid and how wrong have I been?” I did the best I could. We’re all works in progress. It was very different. When you realize that, anybody out there growing their business, you can’t grow your business without growing your people. Otherwise, you’ll be an awesome army of one and that’s not what you’re in this for. None of us is meant to do it on our own. For me, for leadership, it was about getting incredibly intentional about who are the right characters, personalities and traits that I need to bring in because you can teach anybody anything. It got me focused on who brings out my greatness as a leader and which followers gel with how Tracey is as a leader. I got much more intentional about that.

You’ve now written several books. How many books have you written in total?

I have ten.

We're all leaders, but leadership is when you're on the ship with a ton of leaders. Click To Tweet

I think I’ve said everything I had to say. Let’s talk about your latest book Spark, which we’ve used as part of our book club. You did a great seven-week course with some of our leaders, with our business which we appreciate very much. I know some of my people are independently now working with you on part of your book club. Tell us about Spark a little bit.

The other thing why I got a PhD, is again, knowing people like Ken Blanchard and Henry Cloud, all my favorite authors. They took their dissertation studies and wrote books on them. Ken Blanchard was all the situational leadership and stuff. I also, in the back of my mind knew, he would have this very heavy academically robust thing that I have, this book, this big, but you tease that out into be relatable and generalizable to your generic layman. Because what’s the point of knowledge if you and I can understand it and apply it. I think it was Einstein that says, “If you can’t explain it to a four-year-old, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Part of it was after my dissertation, I thought, this was the crux of Spark. My dissertation was on self-efficacy, which is motivation. It’s like lightning in a bottle. Why are some people incredibly resilient and other people are incredibly deflated? Some people are like an orchid. They’re very beautiful and cool. The minute you look at them wrong or you put them in the wrong space, they die and they’re gone. If you get it right and other people are like dandelions, where you have a seed in the middle and all it gets is heat and carbon dioxide and yet it grows. Why are some people dandelions and other people orchids? So that’s the hat I studied.

Out of that came the book Spark, which was the five essentials to ignite the greatness within because resiliency, adaptive capacity and your ability to regenerate comes from an intrinsic spark. Something has to light off in you where you’re like, “I shall live to fight another day.” I came up with the five tenets, which is a singularity, which is why I loved purpose number two. It’s got to be your singular focus. What is your best and highest purpose to be on this earth? Persistence, which means you’re going to have to keep and talk a lot about persistence in your book. That’s what I have to bring to the table. I have to bring my vision and my grit. Nobody can do the work for me. My father could have told me, “Tracey, I want you to take the company to do this with it.” That’s not my purpose. That’s his purpose for me. He’s in heaven, so nobody can do the work for me.

This is what we bring. This is what I found in my doctoral study. This is what we bring, but then you need the externals. There are two sides to every coin and A stands for advocates. You’re my advocate, John. Your people in your group are my advocates. You need your champions. You need the people that are getting on your podcasts or that are having you on their podcast. Your advocates want your success more than you do. Resources, the tools, the branding, the website and the product knowledge. You got to have the tools to execute the vision and the knowledge, which is what we’re talking about. You don’t know what you don’t know and every day you’re going to be faced with new things and all the answers to everything that we need to figure out is out there. You just got to find it. The crux of Spark was as a result of my PhD.

Let’s talk about something along these same lines. You’ve worked with a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life. I’ve spent most of my career in two areas, network marketing and a little bit of sports. You’ve touched different industries and occupations. The one thing, if you could comment on this, would you agree with me on the following statement? If so, elaborate, that all leaders in any of those walks of life, be it military, be it network marketing, be it sales, be it the high-tech world that you were in for a while or ministry. Certainly, I know a lot of people in the ministry, would you agree with me and if so, why, that all leaders in all of those different industries and worlds are readers?

LNC 5 | Tremendous Tracey

Tremendous Tracey: You’re going to be the same person five years from now except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.

 

1000% and here’s why. My dad said you’re going to be the same person five years from now that you are now, except for two things. The people you meet and the books you read. Mental plasticity of the mind is the greatest gift that we have. We have the mind of Christ. You must keep developing that. We exercise our bodies and our muscles. You’re a jock. I love sports. I love working out, but you got to exercise the mind too. If you’re not constantly learning, number one at the speed of business that’s going on right now, with all the different technologies and all the different regulations and all the different interlocking of society, you are going to be so far behind. You won’t even know what hit you. This moves at the speed of sound right now.

You need to know how to make decisions now based on the speed of sound and the fact that everybody lives in a fishbowl now. That part of it is you have to keep up. The other thing is two, the art of regeneration means that every day I should be unlearning something I thought I knew and relearning something new. You can’t be in leadership. Remember, if you’re in leadership, you have to be and people are like, “You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room.” I’m like, “You should be the most hungry to be learning and modeling that for other people.” Now, I always surround myself with people that are smarter in certain ways than me, maybe technical.

If you are a leader, you better are developing your strategy, your future vision. That comes from reading blogs, trade journals, listening to the podcast, calling up other leaders and saying, “What would you recommend?” All this comes from learning because we don’t know what we don’t know. Deming has my favorite quote. He says, “Learning is not compulsory, neither is survival.” You will be left in the dust some and you won’t even know what hit you. We have people that rely on us for our livelihood. If you would’ve let the pandemic slap into you, “I didn’t see that coming.” You should have seen that coming.

Part of being knowledgeable is you’re always looking for contingency planning. You’re always thinking about, “What about the future of this?” You’re always thinking about different things, “If I lose this stream of revenue.” That takes thought and learning. That’s just not intuitively obvious. I couldn’t agree anymore and your people need to respect you as a thought leader in your field. What do we call people? They’re the subject matter experts, not the most charismatic, that’s why one of my PhDs, I want to be the one that people turn to and say, “Tracey, what do you think about this?” I can go, “Let me tell you.” I couldn’t do that if I would not have amassed knowledge.

Let me ask you this. I’m starting to wrap up on this. If I stopped at your house right now, what is Tracey Jones reading this week? Because I know you’re always reading something.

This book on Unoffendable by Brant Hansen, especially with what’s going on in the world, which has always been going on in the world. We’ve always been awful to one another. It’s more visible. I’m rereading Who Moved My Cheese because my next book is a little business parable. I’m rereading this to get the flow of this, but I want to show you this too. You’ll like this. I’m working with somebody on another one of our life-changing classics on Buckminster Fuller. I’m reading through an anthology trying to distill the wisdom of Buckminster Fuller into a book like this big.

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I’m looking for the core tenets and going through this. We are the curators of wisdom. We want to introduce all the seminal thinkers. If your knowledge has been around for 50 years or longer, you’re called a seminal thinker. We need to reintroduce the greats that need to be introduced to the upcoming generations because everybody needs to know all these incredible people they’re out there. One of my Sparklers wrote a book and sent it to me, Prevailing Hope. Tony Bouquet wrote a book. There are so many good books.

On that Fuller one, you’ll find it interesting. I think I’ve shared this with you. I think a Fuller in one sense, Fuller the business guy, Fuller the guy that lived a long time, and Fuller the guy that was known in so many different areas and respected, but I never knew his role in the nutrition world or some of the work that he did with carbon, which is becoming a big area of nutrition. Interestingly enough, Nikolai Tesla, Tesla, the car is named for, also dabbled in the nutrition world for a long time. It’s interesting how some of these people were so smart in so many different areas that they’re gone, but their work lives on.

You’re in a science-based company, so you’re always going to be around people that are trying to look for the next great things. We’re still discovering stuff about our world, the cosmos and our bodies. If we think we know everything, we haven’t even scratched the surface of it. There’s so much more knowledge out there to be acquired. That’s what leadership is about.

Tracey, you have the last word on this. A lot of people are going to read this that are right now, maybe economically hurting. They’re looking perhaps at our industry, network marketing for the first time. They’ve been displaced from a job after many years, no doing of their own, this whole COVID craziness or the flip side of that is perhaps they’re a young person that’s looking and saying, “I’m looking for something to do with my life.” What’s the best place for them to start their self-development program, their reading program, where do they start? Because that’s something that’s never been answered. The reason I’m asking the same questions redundantly on all these interviews is we all found a book by accident.

Somebody handed us a book. We didn’t go to the library and go, “Where’s the self-development section?” You might after the fact, but initially, somebody touched you as we talked about. “Where does that 60-year-old that was in a business that’s no longer going to be there for whatever reason,” or job was stolen going to be, or that 25-year-old, conversely. Maybe they have all those internet skills and all that other stuff. They know how to work all these gadgets, but they have no idea how to ever going to support themselves. Where do they start that most important step of self-development, reading comprehension, etc.? Where do they begin?

You can always start by Googling the top 25 personal development books of all time. I like mixing the old and the new. In my dissertation, you had to have stuff that was only two years old and research, then you had to go back to the greats that founded the theory of leadership that you were working on. I would Google it and say, “What are the top ten leadership.” You are going to get Think and Grow Rich, See You at the Top, The Power of Positive Thinking and How to Win Friends & Influence People. You’re going to get that core ten, probably Life Is Tremendous in there. Those are all books.

The other thing is if you’ve got somebody that you think has it together and you’re looking at them, I bet you, they are readers. Ask somebody and say, “What will change your life?” If you get it and you start reading it and it’s not doing it for you, you don’t have to finish it. Because different people are going to be drawn to different types of leadership books. I get some leadership books and people are like, “You’re going to die when you read this.” I’m like, “I can’t get past three pages. It’s not my thing.” I tell people to remain open and there are so many great leadership blogs, and there are so many people out there now that are all of a sudden realizing personal development and starting to get into it. They’re curating the wisdom. I’ve read, I get Jim Rohn and Zig, The Greatest Salesman by Og Mandino. They’re classics.

Thank you again for joining us, Dr. Tracey Jones. We come to you every single week and we have another remarkable guest that’s going to come upon our next show. That’s Wally Kralik, who started life in the blue jean industry, believe it or not in Canada. He has another amazing life story. He lost everything and rebuilt it through network marketing. He’s going to be our next guest. Dr. Jones, thank you again, as well as lots of words of wisdom. Thank you, my friend.

Thanks, John. I was honored to be here.

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About Dr. Tracey C. Jones

Many keynote speakers can be entertaining, but Tracey brings a unique approach to motivation that includes a call to action, complete with tools you can put to immediate use. Tracey is able to address the root issue you need targeted, and jump-start the transformation you need to become tremendous.

Author, speaker, Air Force Academy graduate, decorated Veteran, international leadership expert, scholar, and researcher, Tracey C. Jones is the President of Tremendous Leadership.

She has released, Beyond Tremendous: Raising the Bar on Life, to help others move beyond the ordinary to generate their best identity, and A Message to Millennials, encouraging the next generation of leaders by teaching the importance of followership. Her latest book, SPARK: Five Essentials to Igniting the Greatness Within, includes her doctoral research.

With the research she has done, and her lifelong pursuit of learning, she is always looking for opportunities to help businesses invest in their employees with training, coaching, or Continuing Education Credits.