In this episode of Rule Breaker Investing, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner interviews Shirzad Chamine, the author of The New York Times best-selling book Positive Intelligence. The judge, controller, avoider, victim, restless one . . . these are some of the inner saboteurs working against you every day. Discover how these characters affect your perception of reality and their incredibly devastating and destructive force, as well as the importance of positivity and how you can realize your true full potential.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on October 21, 2020.

David Gardner: I invented a framework that you'll find in Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Rule Breakers that has served me well over the years. It's called the five and three. The idea is, for any stock that you're researching or buying or holding, what are five key things you're looking for to go right, five green flags, five bullish signs you're watching for? And what are three things you're looking for that boy! You hope not, but what are three key things, three red flags, that might go wrong, and if they did go wrong, if those red flags started waving, you'd start to consider -- and rightly so, perhaps -- selling?

So there you have it, five green flags, three red flags, that's my so called, five and three. And with every buy report we put out, three every month for years and years now, our members get our five and three for that stock. But here's the thing. Why five, and why three? Why not two green flags and 10 red ones? As has often been pointed out, there is an inherent positive bias in the five and three that I believe serves me and you well; not five and five, not three and three; five and three.

There's more I could say here for context and explanation's sake, but that's not the key point this week anyway. More to the point, my guest this week may persuade me that even that positive ratio is not positive enough. Directionally, I think Shirzad Chamine may think I'm right, but actually, maybe if you're going to count three red flags, I think he'd say you should be identifying nine green flags on the other side.

He calls it "positive intelligence." What's your PQ? We'll talk about that. And how are you sabotaging yourself?

So we're going to celebrate thinking different, better, and translating that intelligence into action -- only on this week's Rule Breaker Investing.

Well, I have a treat for you this week. My new friend, and yours, Shirzad Chamine, is teaching us, coaching us, how to think more positively and the benefits of doing so. I've often thought that Rule Breaker Investing works so well in part because we tend to take a positive view of the world when so many others are looking for faults or flags and focus on the downside and protecting themselves from the downside. And I've often asked, rhetorically at points, for decades and decades now, hey, what if things go right? What if things go really right?

Well, my guest that you're going to be meeting in just a minute or so it's going to share his own personal story and his life's work. And I believe that it will leave you not just changed but, of course, improved. So you tell me in about an hour or so whether you agree.

Now, speaking of telling me, next week is, of course, our Rule Breaker Investing mailbag, so I'm very curious about your experience of this week's podcast, anything that you learned, anything that might change you going forward, anything that will improve you and your actions. That's the big focus of this week's podcast.

You know, I've often said, Rule Breaker Investing is one-third investing, one-third business, one-third life. This is one of the life ones, but turns out life and doing it better works pretty well in investing in business too.

Well, again, our email address, [email protected], that is for next week's mailbag. You can tweet us @RBIPodcast.

Without further ado, let's bring on my guest.


Gardner: Shirzad Chamine is the author of the New York Times best-selling book positive intelligence. He's been the CEO of the largest coach-training organization in the world, having trained faculty at Stanford and Yale Business Schools. Shirzad lectures on positive intelligence at Stanford University where he guides graduate students through his popular six-week PQ; that's right, not IQ, not EQ, that would be PQ, positivity training. A preeminent C-suite advisor, Shirzad has coached hundreds of CEOs and their executive teams. His background includes PhD studies in neuroscience, in addition to a BA in, yep, psychology; an MS in, wow! electrical engineering; and an MBA from Stanford.

Well, Shirzad, it's a delight to have you on Rule Breaker Investing.

Shirzad Chamine: It's my pleasure to be here, David.

Gardner: I want to start by sharing this great quotation from Henry David Thoreau, one that you used to kick off your authors at Google Talk years ago. Here it is. I think a lot of us recognize at least the first half of this. It's a beautiful and sad quote, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." Shirzad Chamine, what are one or two thoughts that first come to mind as we say again that Thoreau quote?

Chamine: Well, that not much has changed since when Thoreau wrote that, except that right now we would say most men and women live lives of quiet desperation [laughs] and go to their graves with their songs still in them. But the fact is that most human beings absolutely go to their graves in the clutches of voices in our mind that I call saboteurs, ones that sabotage you, and we are a shadow of ourselves as we live and die. And we can change that, and that's the work that I do.

Gardner: And that's beautifully and sadly put. And I'm wondering, since you're an engineer -- I'm not really, but is there -- when you say that this is true or we should agree with Thoreau. I mean, I think, intuitively, perhaps romantically, sadly, we would say it's true. But do you have a data-driven insight or belief that is in fact true? Is there a chance we could be sabotaging ourselves thinking that our fellow man is leading a life of quiet desperation, when in fact he's not?

Chamine: Yeah, we actually measure this. PQ stands for positive intelligence quotient, which is a measure of how often your mind is sabotaging you versus serving you, and what we know is that there is that tipping point, PQ score of 75, where you are mostly serving your best interest rather than sabotaging yourself. And less than 20% of the population scores a positive intelligence quotient, PQ score of above the tipping point of 75. So the actual number there is that less than 20% are in the mode of the mind that truly serves them. The subtitle of my book is Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential, and How You Can Achieve Yours. That's where the 20% comes from.

Gardner: Thank you, Shirzad. And I'm not surprised that an engineer would have the data-driven insight, but you built a tool to help you know that, and then you've used it to divine where most of our heads are. And we're going to get into that a little bit later. But, Shirzad, first I wanted to go backwards, because I love to start with most of my guests asking them, where did you come from? How did you become you? How would you characterize your first 18 years?

Chamine: [laughs] Perfect and quite painful at the time. And so, I grew up in poverty in a tiny little ghetto apartment with four siblings and parents. My father was a pretty scary guy, sometimes violent. I was always scared of him. My mother was always running around terrified of my father.

And so I was a very sensitive kid growing up without getting much love or attention. And as a result, I needed to figure out how to survive in this threatening, dangerous environment. And these voices in the head that I later came to identify as saboteurs, agents of self-sabotage, they actually started forming in my head to help me protect myself and survive as a child.

And typically, what happens is that these saboteur voices with names, like the judge, the controller, the avoider, the stickler, the victim, these are saboteurs, agents of self-sabotage. They come into our life when we are kids to help us survive our childhood physically and emotionally. And that's where my saboteur started forming. And of course, I was totally unconscious of that happening, I was in the clutches of these characters like the judge and the victim; those were a couple of my top saboteurs that helped me survive my crazy childhood.

And then, of course, at Stanford Business School, a pretty profound thing happened for me, where I woke up to this voice in my head that was the judge saboteur that was running me so many years later. And it was that discovery that ended up changing my life and having me develop a lot of the work that I do here.

Gardner: And you're using language that ,as somebody who studied some of your work -- and I'll be mentioning the saboteur quiz that I took. And I did mention this on last week's podcast, encouraging our listeners to do this. So some of them will already know some of your language -- but you're using language today that you and I know from your work, but as a boy or as a young man, you presumably didn't have that sense of what a saboteur would be or how that would come to influence and inform your own view of yourself later on. Was there a trigger moment or a moment of awakening before you were at Stanford Business School? Where were you at the age of 18?

Chamine: At the age of 18, as I grew up as a small ethnic minority in Iran; we were Zoroastrians, which is a small ethnic minority in a country that's mostly Muslim. My family had been persecuted for 13 centuries, and so I think part of my father's rage that I grew up with was a rage of oppression. And most minorities can relate to that, that after centuries of oppression, there's a rage in the community that sometimes you then spill over, and that's what I experienced with my father.

So I came to this country after finishing high school, and so I just started being in this country. And no, I had zero awareness of my saboteurs, zero awareness of why I was in depression. I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was about 30 years old. So I had no idea that these methods I was using to survive as a child were now quite damaging to me and that they had become automatic habits of my mind.

Gardner: And thinking of all of your achievement and your work as an adult, I can see that you were building other things as a young person. Resilience, for example, and obviously positivity entered your life. It sounds like it was always there, I hope, but it sounds like somewhere past the age of 30, you began to have your eyes awaken to, I don't know, new ways of thinking.

Chamine: Yeah, actually, [laughs] there wasn't much positivity. I was being run by my -- and so, one way, by the way, for fans of Star Wars, this work we do is all about helping you see that inside your mind, there is a war always raging between your inner Jedi and inner Darth Vaders. And these inner Darth Vaders, what we call the saboteurs, agents of self-sabotage, that have names like the judge, controller, avoider, victim, restless, whatever, they come into your life in childhood to help you survive.

And so mine had been characters like the judge, the victim that constantly felt sorry for myself, the hyper-achiever that said, "Shirzad, the way out of this is achievement, achievement, achievement," and I became the best-in-class, I was always top of my class all the way to Stanford Business School. That was a way for me to quiet the demons inside of me to make myself feel better, but that was still saboteurs trying to fill a void inside of me. And it was never about positivity, it was always -- all saboteurs are fear based, they're all about how do I numb the pain? How do I get you to achievement or control or judgment? Or all these other things. How do I have you feel a little bit better about yourself?

But it really, why I woke up to the incredibly devastating, destructive force of these characters, when I was sitting in a Stanford Business School class and I woke up to the truth of my judge saboteur that was running the show in my head; I had no idea.

Gardner: And was there a moment, was that the moment, can you get back in that place? And what changed in that moment?

Chamine: Oh, that was the single most transformative moment of my life. So here I am, I get all the way to Stanford Business School without having awareness of what my mind was doing. And this judge character is one that is actually my top saboteur, and it's one that had helped me survive as a kid. And the way it helped me survive as a kid is, here I am as a kid looking around and saying, "It doesn't appear that my mother or father feel much love or affection for me, because I'm not getting much love or attention."

And I needed to create a narrative that made that not such a terrifying thing for me, so that I could survive physically and emotionally. And the narrative I came up with was actually my parents are perfect people. As a child, you need to keep your parents perfect. The reason is that your life is in the hands of your parents. How terrifying is it for you to admit that your parents, that your life is in their hands, are broken people or imperfect people? So I needed, in order to emotionally survive, I needed to keep my parents perfect. But I needed to create a narrative why these perfect parents are not giving me much love or attention.

And so, the only narrative I could come up with was, "You know what, Shirzad, your parents are perfect, so you're going to survive, don't worry about it. And the reason they're not giving you much love or attention is because you are not a very worthy person. You know, it's a waste of their time to give you much love or attention. But don't worry, they're going to make sure you survive, because they're such perfect parents."

Now that was the voice of the judge saboteur, I'm saying the judge, judging me and saying, "Shirzad, you're unworthy, you're unworthy, you're unworthy of love." And so, it was the judging of self that was beginning to happen.

And then in order to help me survive, it also started judging everybody else around me. So yeah, if my parents are perfect, but anybody else who came across me, I would instantly find what's wrong with you. You're too fat, you're too skinny, you're too tall, you're too short, you're too dumb. I would instantly find what's wrong with you. And, of course, that was very helpful for my emotional survival, because I was saying, "Well, I am a loser, I am unworthy, but then everybody else is broken too, so I'm going to survive, I'm going to be OK." So that voice of the judge constantly judging me and constantly finding fault with others became the automatic habit of my mind, it became my judge saboteur.

I had absolutely no clue that I was doing it until at Stanford Business School, there was this class called Interpersonal Dynamics. We were assigned to -- and by the way, we lovingly called [laughs] that class Touchy-Feely. It's the single most popular class at Stanford Business School, two-thirds of the class took it, because everybody ended up realizing how life changing it is. And the rule in this class was, you were assigned to a group of, I forget, 10 people, 10 fellow students. You would sit in a circle for four-hour sessions, and the rule was, you've got to tell the truth about, in this moment, how are you feeling about each other or what's happening in this moment? Don't intellectualize, don't analyze, just how are you feeling right now with each other in the circle?

And so that's a group, that's a setting where people's truth ends up being revealed. So toward the end of the quarter, we were sitting in one of these sessions and everything was going well, until somebody turned to me and said -- and he was very anxious, he was shaking, his voice was shaking, he was so anxious. And he said, "Shirzad, this is really hard for me to tell you, but I go to tell you, I often feel harshly judged by you, and it really upsets me that you do that."

And so, I looked at him [laughs] and I said, "John, thank you so much for giving me this feedback. This is a very helpful feedback." But in the back of my mind, I was thinking, "Well, of course, you feel judged by me, you idiot. You're the biggest loser in this group. How do you expect me to think of you?"

And we were about to [laughs] move on, and then somebody else turned to me and said, "Shirzad, John telling you this gives me the courage to also tell you I often feel harshly judged by you, and it really bothers me." So I turned to her, and I say, "Kathy, thank you [laughs] so much for giving me this feedback, this is really awesome feedback." And I was thinking in my mind, "Kathy, have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? I mean, give me a break. Get a life. Don't blame your insecurities on me."

And then a third and a fourth person said exactly the same thing. And if you can believe it, my judge was so persistent and so invisible to me that I kept thanking them, but in the back of my mind, I was literally thinking, "It's amazing how they are lining up based on the first-biggest loser in the group, second-biggest loser, fourth-biggest loser, and that they are just blaming their insecurities on me."

Until the thing that changed my life was the guy who was sitting to my left, he was the one guy that I actually admired, that I had put on a pedestal, he got up in disgust at this point, and he went and sat across me from the circle. And, he said, and he was shaking, he said, "Shirzad, I am so disgusted by your inability to hear the truth of what we're telling you, I can't even sit next to you anymore." And he said, "I too have felt judged by you, positively, not negatively. I thought that the moment you met me, you put me in a neat little box, on a neat little pedestal. You have never really seen me for who I am, and I can't stand it anymore."

And that's the moment, somehow, where the dam broke, and all of a sudden, I saw the judge character in my head. And I said, "Oh, my God! They are right. I have this persistent need to constantly and instantly judge everything, put them in neat little boxes, superior, inferior, good, bad, all of these things, they're just made up. And it's the habit of my mind." And I instantly knew, I am not seeing reality, I'm just filtering what the judge is seeing about reality and reacting to it. And so, the judge saboteur revealed itself, and it was the most terrifying and also the most liberating moment of my life.

Gardner: Thank you for sharing that. That is just a spectacular example of self-awareness. And that it came through by a group, it sounds like every member of that group was a brick, brick by brick, they helped rebuild you in a sense and become the person you were. I'm curious, from a biographical standpoint, Shirzad, did you go on from Stanford Business School and go right into business? What were your next steps there?

Chamine: Yeah. I was in high-tech marketing. I initially worked at, I think, at Apple Claris, which was the software group of Apple at the time. I interned at HP then started my own venture-backed software company, which had its own profound lessons, where I was a visionary leader and brought in investment from, you know, famous venture capitalists and CEOs of Fortune 100 companies. It was a compelling vision and a compelling product, and I attracted all these luminaries to invest in me and attracted all these high-level people to come and work for me in the company. And then that was my visionary self.

And then two years into it, I had shifted into the saboteur version of myself under pressure and under stress, because what we now know is that stress fuels the saboteur. Saboteurs are all about survival, and stress totally puts them on steroids. So what happened to me after business school, as I started, when I was in my visionary mode, creative, positive all those awesome stuff, I attracted all these people to the company, and then under the stress of the product being late and things not running so well, I had converted into a complete saboteur version of myself: incredibly controlling, incredibly judging, incredibly distrusting.

And so, the second-most-powerful transformational thing in my life happened, which is about two years into this. One day, the office that we have was in downtown Palo Alto, on the second floor. And so I went out to get lunch and then I came back, I walked upstairs, and my heart sank, because I looked and saw that in the boardroom were seated my chairman of the board; the president of the company, who was one of my Stanford Business School classmates that I had brought to be president of the company with me; and another senior director and VP. They were sitting there to have an intervention on me, basically saying that I had become such an incredibly controlling, and judging, and negative leader that they couldn't stand working for me anymore, and I was killing the company.

And that palace coup, so to speak, became the second [laughs] most transformational moment of my life. Because it was excruciatingly painful. I had to -- I couldn't just quit. I lost a lot of my power and authority that day in the company, but I had to stay in the company and keep working with these people, whom I thought had betrayed me. I was certain that they have betrayed me, that they have done it for their own personal selfish reasons, and oh, my God! and I couldn't walk away, because I had brought in all the investors, I brought in all the clients. I had to stay to see this through. Which meant, every day coming to the office was so profoundly and excruciatingly painful, I could hardly breathe, and I had to figure it out.

And because it was so devastating, I had to dig deeper about what is going on? Why am I suffering so much? How did I go from the person everybody loved -- who now I know was my inner Jedi -- to somebody everybody hated -- which whom I now know as a collection of my saboteurs? What happened there? Who am I really? And that resulted, again, in a much deeper level of this work I do, which is realizing that me and you and everybody else, we are a mixed bag of extraordinarily beautiful inner Jedis, whom I call your sage, and really shitty saboteurs that are traitors. We all are that, a combination of the two.

In my visionary days, it was all about people seeing my energy Jedi and the sage. And under stress, I had shifted into my saboteurs on steroids. I hadn't changed; it's that the different parts of me had -- initially it was my sage, and then it was my saboteurs, and it was all stress related. And it's as a result of that that I discovered how I actually could control my mind and command my mind to begin reactivating back into the sage and shifting back to my inner Jedi and having the show shift back to that part of me.

And once I did, I started seeing a completely different story having unfolded. I started actually seeing that people had not betrayed me in the company. My president and my VPs were actually fighting for my vision, they were protecting my vision against my own saboteurs that were destroying my vision. And I shifted to feeling deep gratitude and deep love for them. To this day, they are close friends. To this day, I have nothing but gratitude for everybody who was sitting in that intervention. [laughs] And it, again, became the second most profoundly life-changing experience of my life.

Gardner: Again, beautifully explained. And I can imagine, I mean, you do so seemingly without any pain with just awareness of who you were, who you are today, calm, confidence is how. I have the pleasure of seeing you over Zoom, which is how we do our podcasts these days at The Motley Fool. I wish that there were a video component to this week's podcast, because it was just so beautifully explained. Thank you for sharing those things about yourself.

And I'm sure we can all see aspects of ourselves in your story, because indeed your work -- and now we're going to get into the framework, because you mentioned saboteurs quite a bit and positive intelligence, and I want to make sure all Rule Breaker Investing listeners begin to understand in full what you mean by these things as you use them. But we all have these things inside us. That's why we can all relate to the stories that you have told about yourself.

Chamine: And, David, both of these, as we look back at all of these, what you see is that everything in the moment I thought was bad, bad, bad, it turns out that it was a great gift being delivered to me, and I just wasn't seeing the gifts. So a huge part of the sage perspective, the inner Jedi perspective, is that absolutely every event and circumstance can be converted into a gift and opportunity if we choose to.

And so, in retrospect, I look at my life and it is perfection unfolding. Everything that happened to me, including my childhood, including the palace coup, including the fact that I screwed up so badly in that company that required a palace coup, every aspect of this was the perfect gift and opportunity in disguise. And so that's the perspective I bring to everything in life.

Gardner: Thank you very much for that. I know you started your TEDx talk by saying to your audience, "You are perfect." Wait, actually, you started by saying, "I am perfect," I think you said, and then you said, and "You are perfect too, right," something like that?

Chamine: No, the word wasn't "perfect," I started my TEDx talk, the Stanford TED talk by saying, "I want you to know that I am absolutely incredibly and totally awesome. I adore myself. I love myself. I believe my sage self, my true self, my inner Jedi is gorgeous and beautiful. And, oh, by the way, I do have the judge saboteur still inside of me, he hasn't died, and he is incredibly ugly, he is devastatingly dark. So I am a mixed bag of these two. My true self is my inner sage, inner Jedi, I adore that being, I adore myself, and I am vigilant about the fact that there's a dark one inside of me, the judge and a couple of others, and I'm vigilant about the fact that I don't want them to hijack me and run the show."

And, oh, by the way, I believe that about every single person on this podcast. I want to look you in the eye, if I could look you in the eye through the podcast and say, "You are a mixed bag of extraordinarily beautiful sage, who is your true self. I want you to fall in love with yourself again. I want you to remember who you truly are, and just know that you have some dark saboteurs inside of you. I want to put them on notice and let them know that they are not you, and you're going to be vigilant about them. And that the war between those two inside of you, those two parts of you, is daily, hourly, and we just want to just see the war happening and reinforce the sage in you and weaken the saboteurs on any given day."

Gardner: All this talk about light and dark and the Force makes me think of Zoroastrianism, actually, a little bit myself. I never really studied Zoroaster in any depth, but at least my undergrad years, I have an understanding about the potential battles that are inside or outside of us.

Well, I want to shift back to when I first came across your work, and it was just a couple of months ago. That's why I'm so delighted to have you join with us this fall and have a lot more people hear your voice as a consequence of our talk together this week. And, Shirzad, it was, I think, August, maybe August 10th, so a couple of months ago. And one of my family members said, "Oh, look at this fun quiz. I just took it. It takes only five minutes. And I've discovered what my saboteurs are." And I said to this family member, "What do you mean?" And they said, "Well, I'll explain it after, Dad, after you take the quiz." And I said, sure, I'm always up for taking a personality quiz, who isn't, the internet makes it so much fun and easy today.

And so, I did, it took me only about five minutes. And I discovered, and here's a little bit of full disclosure, that my top three saboteurs are hyperachiever, pleaser, and avoider. Those of the nine different saboteurs that compete against our sage. And again, I'm using your language sloppily, because it's still, I haven't even read the book, but I liked it enough that I wanted to get into it this week with you.

So those are the three that bedevil me, that I need to name, as you say, by saying, I'm a pleaser, that gives me some control over my own future, by realizing that. I will mention, on the other side, the three that I'm subject to least are going down seven, eight, nine. No. 7, restless. I do not think I'm a particularly restless person, I agree with that. No. 8, victim, and I don't think most of my friends would say, yeah, Dave walks around saying he's a victim. And then No. 9, I achieved a perfect zero score on this, which by the way, is a little disconcerting [laughs] I think, but hypervigilant. Apparently, I proceed in a carefree manner throughout life with zero vigilance. [laughs]

But forget about those. Let's go to those first three, and this really isn't about me, I'm just giving examples for listeners who are new to this, that they can take their own saboteur assessment, you go to Shirzad's website, you will see the quiz, the Saboteur quiz, you'll also see a lot more about his work there. But I enjoyed so much being able to name habits or things inside me, which, on the face of it, can be good, right? And you tell me, Shirzad, but when I see that I'm a pleaser, I mean, I often think of that as a good thing, it means, you know, wouldn't you rather marry a pleaser and have a friend who's a pleaser and hang out with pleasers?

Chamine: No. A great question, and so it helps me explain. One way to look at saboteurs is that the saboteur is the one in you that takes your greatest natural strength and converts that into your greatest weakness by overusing that strength or abusing that strength. So to give you an example of that, if you tell me you are a pleaser, then what I know immediately is that one of your greatest natural strengths is your empathy and caring, that you're very caring, empathic, loving, giving human being. That is an incredible strength, that's awesome in the hands of your sage or inner Jedi, rather than in the hands of the pleaser.

Now, I happen to also have that. So I am a very empathic, loving human being. Now, when my sage uses that, it uses it when that's what's needed, which is, in a lot of the coaching that I do, the workshops that I do, that becomes a great strength that my sage uses to great good. And so, awesome, let me keep that strength. However, when my pleaser uses that strength, it converts into a weakness of not being able to say "no" when I need to say "no," not taking care of myself, when I need to take care of myself, not putting the oxygen mask on myself thinking that's selfish and therefore kind of running exhausted and low, that's why I can't give to others. Not creating boundaries for my kids. I have literally told my kids, my weakest moment as a parent is when I am a pleaser parent with you and don't draw boundaries when I think the boundaries are going to make you unhappy. So our greatest strengths being abused, becoming our greatest weakness. Please keep the love, the strength, but have it be used by your Jedi rather than your Darth Vaders.

Gardner: Wonderful. And so, earlier, you began our conversation by saying that you can also gain a PQ score, positive intelligence quotient, that is the, I believe, that is your creation. A lot of us know the intelligence quotient, however much we may think it does measure or not, intelligence. I know there are many different forms of intelligence. Then there's emotional intelligence, which is certainly another that many people are familiar with. And it sounds like Interpersonal Dynamics at Stanford Business School is helping EQ. When did you seize upon the positive intelligence quotient? And while I haven't taken any such quiz, you mentioned earlier that only about 20% of us pass. And so let's get into that some.

Chamine: Yeah, this positivity-to-negativity ratio is what we're basically doing. PQ is your positive intelligence quotient, which measures how often your mind is in its negative mode versus the positive mode. And the way it connects back to the saboteur sage is that one way we know you are in saboteur, the most important way we know you're in saboteur mode, is when it is generating negative emotions in you yourself or others. That's the telltale sign.

And on the other hand, your sage knows how to handle any challenge whatsoever with a positive mindset, positive emotions ranging from empathy, curiosity, creativity, being in touch with your values and purpose, being calm, clear headed, fearless in action. All of those positive stuff is the inner Jedi, the inner sage, the positive part of your mind. So the way we measure your PQ is by measuring how often you have been in a positive versus negative mindset. And what we know, there are tons of researchers who have looked at the ratio that's important to have been positive/negative. The most famous is Professor [John] Gottman, who did that work with marriages and is able to predict with +90% accuracy from a 15-minute video of a married couple, of a newly married couple, with +90% accuracy determining whether they're going to be still married in five years or not. And a big part of that prediction comes from the negative-versus-positive ratio in their interactions energetically.

So the way these are connected is, what we talk about is, you know, it's good to feel pain. The reason it's good to feel pain is that if you put your hand on a hot stove, it's really good for you to feel the pain so that you realize something is important for me to pay attention to, I got to remove my hand. Same exact thing with negative emotion. Negative emotions, like, anger, shame, guilt, disappointment are all incredibly helpful for you, but just as one second, as an alert, as a wake-up, something needs my attention here. But then if you stay angry, if you stay upset, if you stay stressed, stress is a big negative emotion. If you stay any of those negative emotions for more than a second, then your saboteurs are keeping your hand on the hot stove and complaining why life is so hard.

So your ability to remove your hand from the hot stove, move from a negative reaction to things to the sage, which fuels the positive reaction, that is all about how much mental muscle you have built and relative strength of your stage versus your saboteurs. And that determines your PQ score. And if you want your PQ to be above 75, which is a ratio of 3:1, and that only 20% of the population is above that ratio. And in the book, I share a lot of research about what is so powerful and critical, there's a vortex, there's a tipping point that happens at 75, and it makes a big difference when you achieve that level.

Gardner: I've often heard it said, and I'm sure this is backed by some kind of psychology and probably behavioral data, but it's something along the lines of, you know, say four nice things along with one criticism, or maybe it's five and one. Do you adhere to that general school of thought that when we're talking to others, we should be five times more positive and much more likely to get our constructive criticism if we built that platform of positivity?

Chamine: Yeah. And it doesn't have to be in the same exact conversation, but over a period of time, your relationship, in order to be healthy, needs to have a minimum of 3:1 positive to negative interaction. And just think about it. How many people in your life, the moment they say your name, you say, oh, gosh! there it comes again, right. How many parents, when they call their kid's name, the kid says, oh, shoot! Here comes a criticism.

And the reason is that the ratio of positive to negative is lopsided and people come to expect that this person is lazy about praise, lazy about acknowledgment, lazy about gratitude, but really up front about everything that's not right. And so, the ratio is lopsided. And so what we ask is, look at every relationship you have, and there are lot of interactions that you have that are neutral, where it's neither positive nor negative, but if you counted in the past 24 hours, the past month, the past year, if you counted the number of interactions where either positive or negative emotion has been exchanged, are you anywhere close to three positives to one negative? And if you aren't, that reservoir is running empty.

So for example, now, very concretely, if I do something and you feel gratitude, and you say, hey, Shirzad, I am really grateful that was awesome that you did. And then the next moment, the next day, oh, Shirzad, that was really great, I really appreciate that. And then, again, a third time. Then the fourth time, if there is something for you to say, hey, Shirzad, you know, that thing that you did kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I am all ears, because I know you are telling me the truth, I know you appreciate beauty when there is beauty. And therefore, I'm all ears about when something is not going well. But if every time you open your mouth is about what can improve, I stop listening, it's just too painful, so I go defensive instantly. Therefore, you're not able to influence me, because I just go into defensiveness against you rather than be willing to hear what you have to say.

Gardner: That is so true. And yet, we need to hear it from you to be reminded of that and make it part of us, and I think we all benefit. So I think, right now, Shirzad, you're getting everybody to get closer to 3:1 just by reminding us about 3:1. And so, there's a positive interaction I've had with you. Thank you.

Chamine: And, David, they don't need to be giant essays. They can be just as simple as thank you, just as simple as, wow! that was wonderful. Just as simple as, you know, just a smile, look them in the eye and have their presence. When you come across people, it's as simple as actually seeing them when you say, hi, how are you, and meaning that, make that a positive interaction. Rather than, hi, how are you, absentmindedly. Because it could have been a positive interaction, but the way you often do it, there's no exchange there, right? So if I keep being seen and acknowledged by you, then I'm all ears when there's feedback you want to give me.

Gardner: So I want to describe what happened in our household a couple of months ago. There were new insights and realizations as a consequence of an entire family, in this case five Gardners, each taking the Saboteur Assessment and then sharing notes, which is after all what I love about personality tests on the internet. And we could say, oh, you're that, I'm this, oh, let's have a conversation about it. So we discovered that two of us, even though they both love the kitchen and they both help provide meals for our family, two of them don't get along so well in the kitchen. And we discovered it's because they're both strong controllers. That's one of the nine saboteurs that you've labeled. And so if you're trying as a controller to make supper with another controller, it doesn't always work.

Now, I presume, once you know that, it makes it something you can acknowledge and something that you're now aware of, you're conscious of that in each other. So this is a quick plug for anybody who enjoys taking a quiz to make sure they have their friends or family take it as well and share some notes.

Chamine: Yeah. And, David, that's an interesting thing you bring up. What we find is, in marriage and relationships, people typically get drawn to others with complementary saboteurs, not the same saboteurs, and the reason is exactly what you said. A hard-charging saboteur, like the controller, doesn't want to marry another hard-charging saboteur like another controller, because somebody is going to kill somebody. So usually what we have with hard-charging saboteurs is they get drawn and attracted to those with the softer saboteurs. Controllers typically get drawn to and marry, you know, avoiders or pleasers or other softer saboteurs, so that there can be peace under a household. [laughs]

Gardner: And that makes a great deal of sense to me, because as it turns out, without revealing too much about my own interpersonal dynamics, [laughs] I have married a hyperrational controlling stickler. And that's quite different from a hyperachiever pleaser avoider. And so, and it's worked for 30 years and counting. And there have been, I would say, higher than 3:1 ratios in this relationship. So I can see what you're saying.

Chamine: Congratulations. And another way to look at this is that the reason you were drawn to each other . . . as I was saying, if you tell me what somebody's saboteur is, I can tell you what their greatest strength is, because that saboteur is overusing and abusing their greatest strength, turning that into a negative. Now, the reason we get attracted to people with complementary saboteurs is that, really, we are being drawn to their complementary strength, because we want to be whole, we want to have that strength around us. The problem is, we get attracted to that strength, and yet, very quickly, we get exposed to the saboteur version of that strength, which is the overuse and abuse of that strength, and then we say, what did we do here?

I mean, the reason we get in all irritation and all conflict, if you really look at it, is all the saboteur dance. So my saboteurs are bringing out your saboteurs, and saboteurs are contagious. So initially, we get drawn to others for their sage, and at some point, and that's what we fall in love with -- what's not to love about the sage? But then at some point we begin to see their saboteurs, and we judge their saboteurs, we get pissed at their saboteurs, and then that then triggers more and more saboteurs. Before you know it, we are bringing out the worst in each other, not the best, because our relationship conflicts are about the dance of the saboteurs. And the reason they are so repetitive is because saboteurs have no interest in resolution. Their interest is in proving themselves rights. So there goes the dance of the relationship conflict.

Gardner: Well, thank you very much, and for sharing that framework, which I think a lot of us, in some ways, could intuit, but to hear it come together from the person who developed it and is now sharing it back out through Rule Breaker Investing, that's a lot of fun and very educational for us.

Well, I've mentioned that Shirzad's website is, where I learned some more about you and some of your background there, although you shared so much more and so richly with us here, Shirzad. How are you spending your time today?

Chamine: The way we talk about our work, we put it under the construct of mental fitness, and the way we are defining mental fitness is your capacity to handle life's great challenges with a positive rather than negative mindset. And saying that what we are doing with this framework is exactly the missing link in education, that we teach our kids math and literature and physical fitness; we just forget to teach them the thing that's even more important, which is mental fitness, your ability to handle life's great challenges with a positive rather than negative mindset. So my mission in life right now is to shift societal paradigm and world paradigm to a place where every high school teacher, every parent, every educator knows that that is our greatest obligation to our kids, in early age and all the way through college and beyond.

So the company that I'm building is one that is very aware of that mental fitness, the stuff we are talking about, it's really great to read a book, and it's really great to develop this awareness, but we are all familiar with the fact that insight is not enough, that when we wake up to these things and say, "Oh, my God! I got it, I got it, I got it!" we still are very likely to go back to the old habits. Because the old habits live in your brain in the form of neural pathways, which are muscles of the saboteurs.

To counter the muscles, these muscular saboteurs inside is not enough, you need to have people actually build muscles of the sage to counter muscles of the saboteurs, that's what we call mental fitness. And that requires ongoing practice, and what we found is that most people, their saboteurs are so strong, that left to their own devices, they are not able to keep steady new behavior long enough for it to become the new habit of their mind.

So what we have developed is an app that begins people into that journey of building up these new habits for an intensive six-week period. There is a six-week app-guided program we have to basically keep on a daily basis, have you focus on one little muscle at a time, one saboteur at a time. So that we build enough neural pathways in your brain to become muscles of your sage, so you fight the saboteur muscle with the sage muscle and build lasting new habits.

And so, that has been where my focus has been, and we are training thousands of coaches around the world to be using this app and this work with their clients, and also corporations that are using our work inside the companies.

Gardner: Wonderful. And has 2020 surprised you at all at any moment, based on things like global pandemic or anything? How have you reacted to, I would say, the most unusual year of my life and in a way a year of heartbreak?

Chamine: I find the perspective of the sage is that absolutely everything can be converted into gift and opportunity. And so what we have been doing with all of our clients is helping them see that this pandemic is something that their judge is saying it's bad, bad, bad and wait for it to be over. When is this darn thing going to be over so I can go back to the good old days and be happy again? And that is a complete lie of the saboteurs, because this pandemic is an incredible number of gifts in disguise. And I think there are profoundly positive things that are happening in the world because of the pandemic, and the question we want everybody to be asking every single day is not when is this going to be over, but what do I choose to do to convert this into a gift for myself, for my loved ones, for my community, for the world? If you keep asking that question, you'll find a ton of answers related to that.

Gardner: Thank you for that; that is a gift. Shirzad, I find myself wanting to say something or ask a question briefly on shame. I was raised in a Christian tradition, and many others listening probably were too, and a lot of us hear that we're fallen or Adam and Eve, these kinds of orientations. It sounds as if you come from a different tradition, you mentioned earlier, but I'm curious: What is your take on this sense that we are a fallen species? Much of what you're saying seems to go so straight up against this in a new place that I find it interesting. Do you feel any shame, Shirzad Chamine?

Chamine: [laughs] I love that question. And as I said before, my judge saboteur that I exposed, he's so ugly, I call him "the executioner." He has not disappeared from the day I exposed him; he just has gone from a megaphone of 100 to a whisper of 5, and my sage has gone from a whisper of 5 to a megaphone of 100. So the balance of power has shifted. But that voice inside of me that tells me every hour, "Shirzad, you're an idiot, you're worthless, you should be ashamed of yourself for how you failed yesterday or who you are," and all of that stuff. That voice doesn't go away. And occasionally, he still does hijack me, so occasionally I do feel shame. This work is not about not getting hijacked by your saboteurs, it's about getting hijacked fewer times and recovering faster.

So the answer to your question is, absolutely, I occasionally feel shame and I recover a lot faster from it. I don't dwell on it. That's what mental fitness is, is how quickly you recover from negative reactions to things to the positive reaction to things.

Gardner: We're going to move to our closing section and talk about investing a little bit, but before we do, I wanted to share, again, this is more of your own work. I read this in an article, I think it was from Stanford's Graduate School of Business, maybe their magazine, talks about a lighthouse metaphor. I'm just going to read a brief passage here, and I'd love for you to reflect on this. So this is talking some about, this is an article about you and your work, talking about how we should be charting a path like we're standing at the edge of a dark forest -- that's each of us -- with a lighthouse in the distance. Getting to the lighthouse is a goal taken one step at a time. You're quoted in this article, "At any given step, take the step that has more light in it..." Chamine says, "...only after you take that step, the step after that will reveal itself." I'm going to read a little bit more here, "After each step," Chamine says, "you will get closer and closer to the lighthouse to your true self, to your final self-actualization." But in conclusion, "Nobody ever gets to the lighthouse," Chamine says. "The value lies in the journey to improve how you think about yourself and your world." Does that still describe your view of things?

Chamine: That's how I describe the journey of self-actualization, and that the saboteurs make self-actualization about, "Oh, my God! I got to figure out what's the big achievement I am going to have in this world and make sure I'm clear what that achievement should be. And when I get to that achievement, I'm self-actualized." And that's a complete lie of the saboteurs.

So what's the instruction you can give to yourself for how to get to that lighthouse when you're fully self-actualized, because as you know, the way life works is, you don't have a roadmap, and that at any given time, you can't find a path that is exactly charted from here to the lighthouse. The only thing you can guide yourself with is asking yourself, "The next step in front of me, which step has more light in it?" And if you take that step, then there'll be more light on your path, the next step after that becomes revealed.

And as you keep taking one step at a time, there's more and more light on your path, you discover more and more stuff. You run into others who are on the path with you and what happens is every step is full of discovery and full of growth, and you keep getting closer and closer to the lighthouse, and you will never make it to the lighthouse. Nobody is ever fully self-actualized.

Nelson Mandela, who is my hero of the sage leadership, who got incredibly self-actualized; he was still not fully self-actualized; I can tell you 10 things he could have done that he didn't do, right? But he got close. And the key thing here is that self-actualization happens one step at a time. And so we really define self-actualization as becoming more and more your true self, who is your sage, less your saboteur. And that happens one person at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time. So today, you can be taking a step toward self-actualization by asking yourself what are the options in front of you and which of these options have more light in it versus less.

And what I mean by something that has more light in it is positive emotions. The positive emotions of the sage, it is this step that has empathy, curiosity, creativity, a clear-headed laser-focused action or meaning and purpose? Then it is a step with light in it and becomes a little bit more of a sage step. Is it a step that's directed by a sense of fear and anxiety and self-doubt, and I need to do this so that people love me more, and all of those kinds of things are steps that don't have light in them. So I want you to be a little bit more self-actualized every single day by asking yourself, how can I be 1% more of my sage today, 1% less of my saboteurs, and keep going?

Gardner: I love the lighthouse metaphor. And each of us can only take the next step, so is it toward light?

You know, I'm thinking about us here in the year 2020, and it feels like, not just a pandemic, but especially in this country today, a lot of angst and worry about the election and a lot of other factors, and they are very real in many people's minds. And I'm thinking of Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy. Because I feel as if we are, in a lot of ways, culturally, it feels to me this way, Shirzad. I feel as if we've gone down lower toward our safety needs and our physiological needs, where a lot of us, it strikes me, are sort of there for probably understandable reasons here in the fall of 2020. And yet, here you are, a voice reminding us that we should be right up there at the top of our pyramid -- Maslow again, the hierarchy of needs, a lot of us know it. But at the top of the pyramid is self-actualization, achieving one's full potential.

Before we shift to investing, do you have any reflections on Maslow or on the U.S. in fall 2020?

Chamine: Yeah, I want to remind us that in every journey of progress, there's usually two steps forward, one step back. And it is those one step backs that reveal what is needed. For example, my one step back in the start-up I was running was becoming so mired in my saboteurs that it created the palace coup that then had me take many steps forward, and it only happened because I hit bottom. Same exact thing happened with my judge being busted. What the pandemic is, and the current situation in the U.S. is, that I believe, it has profound possibilities of long-term positive stuff happening.

Let's just think about it. A lot of what has happened in the U.S. it's not making people any worse than they have ever been. For example, racism. What is happening in the U.S. is not that we have become a more racist country, what is happening in the U.S. is that we are becoming more aware of racism that has always existed in this country. We have the floodlights on it now. And what that means to me, it's just the saboteurs. These saboteurs are inside of us. If we are seeing them for who they are, we are one step ahead, being in denial of them is not so great, right? And it is not a pleasant experience to be looking at these dark characters in the eye and saying, oh, my God! I see you now. Not necessarily pleasant, but incredibly important.

And then you think about the pandemic. When is the last time in human history where almost every human alive had more or less the same concern, and a much more similar lifestyle to each other rather than the rich are living this life and the poor are living this life? We have never been this close as a human species to having more or less the same concerns and the same life experience. That is incredibly humanizing, and it brings the globe together.

Zoom is a technology that was being used by 10 million people, and all of a sudden within a few months, it's being used by 300 million people. What does that do for our ability to see how much more connected we can be using technology? How intimacy and deep stuff is possible to do. You don't have to travel and be in-person to actually have a deeply intimate powerful experience. What is that going to open up in terms of bringing the universe together and the planet together?

So when I think about it, and how much we have discovered about how much more productive people can be at home if they choose to, rather than wasting all this time on travel and commute and all that stuff, what is the creativity and productivity that's going to unleash for decades to come?

So at the seismic level, I think at the highest level, I look at the pandemic as having unlocked something not that different from when the internet started unlocking huge amounts of productivity. I think we're going to look back at the pandemic and realize that this started unleashing a ton of creativity and productivity in the universe; that's going to pay off so much more than the cost that we have paid.

So this is the way that our saboteurs have us tunnel vision on what's wrong, what's wrong, what's wrong and completely miss the picture of the broader perspective, where I actually think the planet has never been this conscious. I actually think there has never been this much light on the planet in terms of those who are aware and of those who are feeding their sage, and including the kind of work that I do.

And this has completely empowered the work I do, because I can reach so many more people now, who are available and accessible through video technology. So there's so much that is good, and you can now bring it to your own personal life every day and say, how can I, instead of waiting for this to be over, to ask myself, how do I convert this into a gift for myself, my loved ones, my team, my company, the world?

Gardner: Amen, brother! Thank you for that.

Let's shift to our final conversation, it's just going to be about, I have three psychological Truths. At least in my mind, they are capital-T Truths. I'm not sure that they're fully rigorously backed, I'd like you to tell me if you know what your thoughts are on these. But you know, part of the nature of Rule Breaker Investing -- you just mentioned Zoom -- is to find companies that have big opportunities. And we try to find them early enough. And usually if you have a really good idea like Amazon early or Zoom more recently, early, they're going to look overvalued, people are going to think it's crazy. Amazon is making no money. Or Zoom, who are these people, nobody was using them two years ago. And yet, often, I've used that as a guide to find some of the best stocks of our time. Our reactions to these things that are making big in-waves in our awareness but that we question in early stages.

Anyway, I wanted to try these three Rule Breaker Truths out on you, Shirzad, just for any commentary that you would have. Now, before I start this, are you an investor, do you think of yourself as a -- what do you do with your own money, if you're comfortable saying some of what you've done? I know you're an entrepreneur, so I know how you spend some of it.

Chamine: I pretty much invest in my ideas and company building, [laughs] I don't invest otherwise. I'm not a sophisticated investor in that sense.

Gardner: Well, I certainly believe you're a sophisticated person. And if you wanted to put your energies there, you would be an outstanding investor. But we all have different callings, and so I can see that you're perfectly adding value in the way that you should. And so I do want to distract you then from [laughs] asking you to invest in stocks, we're not going to talk about stocks, but let me go to No. 1 here.

So this is something I've said, having read in a book years and years ago. You tell me if it's factually true or at least directionally true. I have pounded the table for this: Psychologists tell us that the pain of loss is three times the joy of gain. Agree? Disagree? Any thoughts?

Chamine: That absolutely does the PQ score of 75. There's a tipping point that happens, that's the 3:1 ratio, it's exactly what our research shows.

Gardner: Well, I'm delighted to know that. And, in fact, I hadn't even thought of the math of it, but when you said 3:1 earlier, that's exactly what I just shared back, and boy! Is that important.

Chamine: And the reason for it is that, for evolutionary reasons, it was important for our brain to pay attention to and amplify the negative, because that was helpful for our survival.

Gardner: All right. I'm glad to hear that. And just to tie a bow on that one, the reason that I think that's so important for Rule Breakers and for investors is because the math of investing is the opposite. In fact, it's the opposite in the most glorious way, because the worst you can ever do with a bad investment is minus 100%, and I still have never done that with any of my stock picks, but I've gotten awfully close a number of times. The best that you can do is not just 3 times the badness, [laughs] nope, it's infinite times the badness. You find a stock like Amazon or Zoom, you hold it over time, you can make tens and tens of times of your money, wiping out your worst losses and leaving so much money on the table.

So Shirzad, I think an important Rule Breaker Truth is, if we're all hardwired that way, if we just understand the other side of that coin, the math, you see how wildly benefited you are from being an investor.

Chamine: And, David, the other thing that relates to the work we do related to this is, that saboteurs have you get tunnel vision. They have you be lost in the forest. They have you be lost in that small little thing that's happening right now and freak out over it. And the sage is the part of you that sees the whole forest, sees the longer arc. Similar, not that different, from what I was saying about the pandemic. The pandemic, short-term, tunnel vision, horrible, horrible, horrible thing.

Long term, if I were an investor right now, I would literally be asking myself, in what way has our world fundamentally shifted forever? At fundamental, you know, seismic shifts? And that enables a whole lot of new business opportunities, and it makes some of the old successes in business obsolete if you're not paying attention. So if that alone is where you get a long-term view of the pandemic and how it has changed our universe. You can be so great in being in front of some of the huge winners that will come out of this.

Gardner: Thank you, well said. All right, the second Truth that I wanted to share, I describe it as one of the six traits that I hope everybody listening to me is modeling in their own behavior as investors. And this one is trait No. 2, and it's add up, don't double down.

Now, in my experience, many people, if they buy a stock and it gets cut in half, they think, OK, well, I liked it up there, so now I'll buy more down here to try to get back to even. And while that can work in some circumstances, much more contrary for most of us is the idea that you do the opposite: You ignore the ones that go down. In a world that says, buy low, sell high, you ignore that silly phrase and instead you ask yourself, what is working? What is positive? Think of Amazon or Zoom again, you bought it once, and when you have new money, where should you put it? Maybe you should add up, not double-down. Now, again, I'm not sure that this is rigorously backed in any psychological tests, but least for my own orientation, it's what I've been doing, and it seems to work. Do you agree with that?

Chamine: Yes. And I want to tell you that there are a lot of investment advisors who do our training, and what they find is kind of related to this, which is so often the reasons that they want to buy or sell something are based on the negative emotions that they have been experiencing through the saboteurs and that they're trying to, kind of, minimize the pain. And so, what they realize is that that is totally the wrong reason to be making investment decisions. And so they stop trusting their brain and decisions that it makes to try to minimize the pain of something that hasn't gone well or whatever. So what you just shared appears to be an absolute [laughs] sage way of getting grounded.

Gardner: Well, thank you. And it certainly has worked well for me, which is why I made it part of my toolbox that I share with anybody who's getting started investing, and I try to start reversing how they think about it. And there are a lot of received truths that are simply not truthful.

So my final one to share with you, Shirzad, is this line, stocks always go down faster than they go up, but they always go up more than they go down.

Now, F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "If you can keep two opposed truths in your mind at the same time, that's genius." So I'm asking each of us to show some genius and recognize that even though, so frequently it's often said, the stock market goes down on an elevator and back up using a staircase. And we have a lot of fear tied with market sell-offs or what will happen after the election or what about 2021, and look at that crash. But instead, we should be focused on that, as you said, time, the bigger picture, and that lower left to upper right, that holding stocks proves time and time again over years and decades.

Chamine: That goes right back to the tunnel vision versus the broader, much more steady perspective of the sage; I absolutely agree with that.

Gardner: Well, Shirzad, maybe, I don't know that we've convinced you to buy a stock after this conversation [laughs] or to shift your life's work toward the stock market, but I'll say this, I'm delighted by your life's work, I'm so glad that you shared yourself and your perspective and your work with us through Rule Breaker Investing this week, and I wish you the best for the rest of 2020 and the rest of your life.

Chamine: Thank you, David. It's always a delight when the person that I am being interviewed by has done their work, is being authentic, sharing of their own saboteurs of their own family. And I checked with you ahead of time before this, like, hey, are you going to be open for me to, kind of, coaching you and -- because sometimes a person is not willing to do their work, and you are authentic and vulnerable and said, "Hey, yeah, bring it on, there are no boundaries that I want to hold with you," which is awesome, because it's much more inspiring when someone like you is actually doing the work and sharing about that. I really appreciate that.

Gardner: Well, thank you. This has been a wonderful conversation.


Well, I thought I was interviewing him, and you may have thought you were listening, but it turns out, using Tolkien's words, perhaps we were, all of us, deceived. We weren't just interviewing or listening; we were being coached.

Thank you, again, to Shirzad Chamine.

Mailbag next week. Fool on!