Three Questions About My Book (#209)

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In today’s episode, I wanted to answer the three most common questions asked about my book or my process of writing the book. I wanted to share this with everyone hoping that it inspires you to write your own as well. I am hoping that my story will push you to do the thing that you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it on the back burner.

My favorite, actionable idea is to get selfish to get unstuck. It sounds horrible, but it’s actually necessary. Too many books, speeches and YouTube videos tell us that the best leaders are selfless and servant. That they put everyone’s needs ahead of their own. I bought into that for a long time myself. It’s who I wanted to be – and be known to be. Until I found myself stuck in the Valley of Uncertainty. In there, I was lost, aimless, feeling sorry for myself and wondering what I’d done to get there. I wanted someone to reach down into that Valley to pull me out and tell me what to do.

Full transcript below

Episode timestamps:

[1:32] When did I know that I had to write this book?
[4:13] What is my favorite actionable idea from the book?
[6:56] How have I applied the lessons that I am sharing in the book?
[10:44] Outro

You Too Can Get Unstuck

My new book, OWNER SHIFT – How Getting Selfish Got Me Unstuck is a philosophical memoir that reveals the secret to why so many entrepreneurs get stuck and how they can SHIFT to get free once again.

It tells the story of how I found myself in the Valley of Uncertainty, a place where many entrepreneurs end up stuck, confused and feeling sorry for themselves, like I did.

It was a place I hated but didn’t know how to climb out of.

Until a messenger that I barely knew and wasn’t looking for showed up and put me on the path that eventually led me out of that Valley and into a future that I owned and made my property.

Want to get a preview of OWNER SHIFT? CLICK HERE

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Welcome back for this new special episode where I’m going to be talking about the three questions I get asked a lot about my book, OwnerShift – How Getting Selfish Got Me Unstuck. The first time I was asked them, I sort of struggled with it, because you just don’t think about the reasons that you do things. And so I thought, well, now that I’ve been asked them a few times, I’m going to share them in the hopes that (1) you’ll find it interesting and (2) maybe it’ll help you figure out what has to happen in your life in order for you to write your book, the one that that’s inside you, that’s inside many of us that otherwise might might stay there. Maybe this will help convince you that taking the next step is the right step. 

So first question is, When Did I Know That I Had to Write This Book? And as I said, the first time I heard that question, I thought to myself, hmmm, I’m not sure. But as I thought about it, and I sort of got introspective about it, it became very, very clear to me, and here’s my answer: I knew that I had to write this book on October 5, 2003. That was the day that my partner, friend and my biggest supporter in life, Butch Weiss, died after being terribly burned three days earlier in a fire that happened at one of our waste processing plants. 

Butch was the most special person that I’d ever met. He was strong as an ox. He was smart as a whip. And he spent a lot of his life farming. He’d been the force, really, that germinated my entrepreneurial seed. He gave me confidence at a point in my life, in 1992, when I had very little. His death was a huge blow. It knocked the sails out of many folks on our team. And it broke me and pushed me over the edge into what I’ve come to call the “Valley of Uncertainty.” And that’s a place where I languished for years, before finally figuring out how to break through and make my future bigger than my past. And 12 years later, 12 years after Bush passed away from this super low point where I wanted to quit and forever feel sorry for myself, I sold the company that Butch and I had started for what a lot of people would consider a remarkable amount. And that’s when I realized that the ideas and stories that went into that relationship needed to get out. And they needed to be told. 

Well, I knew that my stories and experiences were my own. I also knew that they weren’t unique, meaning that many entrepreneurs end up broken, and in their own Uncertainty Valley, at some point in their journey. I’d seen too many of them stay there too long, and lose their sense and hope for what they were still capable of creating. And I wrote the book to try to change that, to give people a roadmap that they could follow or borrow or whatever they needed to help them get where I think they deserve to be. 

The second question that I get asked is, What is My Favorite Actionable Idea From the Book? That’s an easy one. For me, my favorite actionable idea from OwnerShift  is to get selfish to get unstuck. And I know that sounds horrible. I always say that sounds horrible, because selfish is a word that nobody wants to talk about, particularly when it reflects on them, or it’s about them. But for me, it was actually very necessary. You know, too many books and speeches and YouTube videos tell us that the best leaders are selfless and servant leaders, they put everyone’s needs ahead of their own. And I bought into that for a long time myself. It’s  who I wanted to be and be known to be as well. 

Until I found myself stuck in the Valley of Uncertainty and in there, I was lost, aimless. I was feeling sorry for myself, and I was wondering what I’d done to get there. I wanted somebody like a giant or someone to reach down into that valley and pull me out and dust me off and tell me what to do, tell me the world’s gonna be okay. And that never happened, of course. Because, you know, at a time when I wanted that to happen, I wasn’t having the thoughts that I needed to be having, such as, Why am I here in the first place? And it took me time to realize that I was in that valley, because I designed my world to put me there. By putting everyone else first, I had lost sight of my real role as a leader. As a result, the valley was exactly where I belonged, and to get out of the valley, and back to doing the job I was meant to do, I had to get clear about the future that I wanted to create, and own. That’s what I mean about getting selfish. 

Once I chose to make the time I needed to know where I wanted to go, and the future that I wanted to own, I knew that I’d be able to include and lead myself and my team better. But with that clarity, the clarity that getting selfish gave me, I could more easily be the selfless leader I always thought I wanted to be because it gave me the chance to really lead rather than to just aimlessly wander. 

And the third question I get asked all the time is, How Have I Applied the Lessons That I am Sharing in the Book? That’s a great question. So here’s how I answer that. First of all, say yes less. Say yes, less. 

In my experience, most entrepreneurial journeys have four stages. I call them the Dream Stage, the Grind Stage, the Break Stage, and the Breakthrough Stage. When I was in my Dream Stage as an entrepreneur, I thought that my job was to say yes to everything. Every opportunity, every job, every meeting, every everything. I still think that was my job at the beginning. But the trouble was, for far too long, I didn’t realize that all the yeses would eventually overwhelm me, and lead me into the Grind Stage. There, I started to resent saying yes, and being responsible for everything. But I didn’t know how to stop it. The dream was slipping away and transforming into a nightmare. Instead, a nightmare that would drop me into the Break Stage, before I realized what it hit me. Nobody wants to be broken. But it took getting there for me to realize that my always yes approach was wrong. Maybe not in the beginning. But it definitely was by the time I ended up broken, which was 10 years later. You can’t treat a business the same way for 10 years, you can’t treat yourself as an entrepreneur the same way for 10 years — it requires shifts. And I wasn’t making the shifts. And I may have been lazy too. I mean, saying yes too much made me a person I didn’t want to be. But I thought that saying yes made me the hero in every story. And I forgot that so many of those stories didn’t need me in the first place. Or at all. A byproduct of clearly knowing the future that you want, the one you want to create, and the one you want to own, is that you know much better what you need to be doing, or saying yes to. And, of course, what you don’t. 

So those are the three questions I get asked a lot. When did I know that I wanted to write this book? What’s my favorite actionable idea from writing the book? And what is an example of a lesson that I applied that I share in the book as well. So I hope this has been helpful for you to get a better sense of my thinking about these things. And also, more importantly, that it’s been helpful and getting you to think about things a little bit differently than perhaps you have and, you know, maybe even convincing you that writing that book that’s inside of you is a good idea, because I think it is. 

You can learn more about my book at Just click on the book tab and you can find out all you want to find out, you can buy it, you can get a free chapter, you can engage with me if you want. Lots of stuff to do there. So thanks for listening, and I look forward to reading your book one day.

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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I help entrepreneurs get unstuck, take back their power, achieve their life objectives, and create the futures they want.

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