The Quest to Make an Impact with Tom Bilyeu

Do you ever feel like you should be doing something GREAT with your life?

It’s never too late to grow and do something extraordinary. People often think that after a certain age, your brain is no longer able to learn new things effectively. Guys, that is not at all true. You can continue developing your skills and your brain to #MAXOUT every area of your life. 

My guest today, Tom Bilyeu, knows all about continuously growing the brain. Even though he co-founded a multi-billion dollar company and started a successful interview series, Tom continues pushing himself to expand his mind. 

This episode is all about showing you that you’re fully capable of accomplishing ANYTHING that you set out to do. Accomplishing great things is not about the intelligence that you’re born with it’s about growing and believing that you can achieve what you want. No matter where you are right now, you can change your life and make a positive impact on the world! Let’s dive in!

Who Is Tom Bilyeu?

Tom Bilyeu is the co-founder of Quest Nutrition a company whose mission is to provide healthy snack foods to help people develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. He is also the co-founder and CEO of the media production company Impact Theory a company committed to helping people unlock their full potential and leave an impact on the world. They host weekly shows interviewing a variety of powerhouse achievers to step into their mindsets and share their secrets of success. 

Despite his massive success, Tom didn’t start out as a high functioning achiever. When he was a kid, he was ambitious, but he lacked the drive to work towards his dreams. He cheated through high school and had an SAT score of 990. He knew that he could do something great with his life, but he couldn’t begin to work towards it:

“I always said, ‘I’m going to be rich. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that.’ Always, since the time I was a little kid, but I didn’t have the drive to see it through, so I really was an empty dreamer when I was a kid.” – Tom Bilyeu 

Tom eventually began to push himself once he started college at the University of Southern California. He felt compelled to become a filmmaker and worked tirelessly to get into the USC School of Cinematic Arts. His educational counselor told him that entering the USC film school was impossible based on his SAT scores, but Tom worked diligently for two years and was able to beat the odds and enter film school. 

Developing a Growth Mindset

Once Tom made a successful short film, he grew in his confidence and thought that he was a naturally gifted filmmaker. His confidence in his abilities was shattered by him making a terrible film for his senior project that was mocked by his peers. 

Tom’s self-confidence was destroyed, and this led to him underachieving so that he could feel superior:

“Now [that] my ego is so crushed, I need to be the smartest person in the room. It’s like the only thing I have left. Well, at least I’m naturally smart. So I just put myself in dumber and dumber rooms.” – Tom Bilyeu

Tom self-loathed and even drifted towards depression. This all changed once Tom discovered the growth mindset:

“I began to discover brain plasticity. … And I said, ‘I choose to believe that I can grow and change.’ And so I started reading voraciously. … And I start thinking of myself as someone that needs to grow and learn and get better. It’s now called the growth mindset.” – Tom Bilyeu 

Rather than accepting the narrative of failure that he had constructed for himself, Tom realized that he could continue to grow and MAXOUT his life. He became ambitious again and started dreaming big. 

Don’t limit yourself to where you are now. You can always grow your brain and climb higher to where you want to be. No matter where you are currently, you can do amazing things and MAXOUT your life if you shift your MINDSET. 

After developing his growth mindset, Tom met and fell in love with his wife, Lisa Bilyeu. Tom consulted her father for her hand in marriage. Her father was reluctant because he was unsure of how Tom would provide for her, but Tom promised that he would make Lisa rich someday. In that moment, Tom fully committed to following his ambitions:

“And so [I] was like, ‘Whoa, like the gauntlet has been laid down. I’m going to rise up to this.’ And so in my soul, I’m like, ‘I’ve got this man. I’m going to do this. I’m committed.'” – Tom Bilyeu 

Tom made a promise to become immensely successful, and through his hard work and growth mindset, he achieved his goal. 

Growing in Your Mistakes 

Tom began working as a copywriter for a startup company called Awareness Technologies in order to connect with its founders. The founders embodied everything that Tom was striving to become, and he knew that associating with them would lead him on the path to success. 

Tom’s journey is a great reminder that success is largely based on who you associate with. When you surround yourself with the right people, you can grow mentally and advance yourself further in your professional goals. 

Although Tom knew that he was in the right place for accomplishing his dreams, he found himself maneuvering through a hostile work environment. Tom powered through his superiors’ verbal abuse and developed the ability to not let it impact him: 

“I would get kicked in the face, and I would do something really dumb. I’d be called an idiot, [and] told how stupid I was. And then I’d just be like, ‘Alright, I need to recenter.’ And that just became my obsession. I need to be able to emotionally get back to complete neutral so fast that you don’t even see it register on my face.” – Tom Bilyeu

Through practice and reading about cognitive behavioral science, Tom was able to rewire himself to benefit from the verbal attacks. He developed the mindset to accept responsibility and learn from his mistakes:

“And I realized that what most people do, their strategy is to deflect it. [They say,] ‘It’s your fault. It’s not my fault.’ So I started thinking of this as a metaphor. People are throwing gold at me. … I can put a shield up and deflect it. But then I lose that piece of gold. If I drop my shield and just take the pain, … then I bend down, and I go, ‘… There’s a lesson here. And now I have this piece of gold, but the whole thing is I have to be defenseless. … I have to take it.’” – Tom Bilyeu

Many people left Awareness Technologies because of the work environment, but Tom was able to stick it out and continue learning from his mistakes. He was eventually able to acquire a 10% share in the company through his hard work and growth. 

Pursuing Purpose

After becoming rich through his share in Awareness Technologies, Tom realized that he needed to shift career paths to pursue a higher goal than money. He and his co-owners realized that they weren’t happy in their current business. They realized that they wanted to try to build something that they would love, even if it meant that the business would ultimately fail. 

“For me, it was [that] I grew up in a morbidly obese family. … And so I was like, ‘They’re going to die far sooner than they need to.’ And there’s this great Mother Teresa quote, ‘Nobody will act for the many, but people will act for the one.’ … And I thought, ‘I can show up every day and fight for them. It’s not about the money anymore.'” – Tom Bilyeu

Tom’s compassion for his FAMILY and desire to improve the WORLD drove him to create an immensely successful nutrition company catering to people’s primary desire: snack foods. 

“So our thing was don’t change behavior, leverage it. So we already know people will eat things they want to eat. You can’t stop people from eating a chocolate chip cookie. So the question was, ‘Could you make a chocolate chip cookie that was actually good for them?'” – Tom Bilyeu 

Tom went from having no drive and cheating through high school to co-founding a multi-billion dollar company and helping people eat healthier. He did it by shifting his mindset and realizing that he could continue growing mentally. You can always improve and do something great!

And what’s more, Tom was able to keep his promise to his father-in-law:

“I said, ‘Andreas, do you remember when you asked me how I was going to take care of your daughter?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘How am I doing?’ And he just started to cry.” – Tom Bilyeu

Tom was able to provide for his family and made a positive impact by helping people become healthier. Success isn’t just about money or meeting your personal goals — it’s about making a POSITIVE impact on the world and helping others. 

Impact Theory and the Matrix

On top of his immense success with Quest Nutrition, Tom also founded the media production company Impact Theory with his wife, Lisa Bilyeu. The company is all about educating people and shifting their mindsets so that they can leave a positive impact on the world. A key analogy that Tom and Impact Theory makes in tapping into your full potential comes from the blockbuster film The Matrix:

The Matrix is the perfect metaphor for the human experience. It is about a guy who from the day he shows up, has the same abilities as the day at the end. But once he learns to believe in himself, then he can actually do more. … And I was like, ‘That’s life.’ Like you’ve got this potential, but if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re never going to put in the work to actuate it.” – Tom Bilyeu 

When you believe in your abilities to accomplish remarkable things, you’ll be able to do it. Don’t construct a narrative that you can’t accomplish something. If you want to do something, you CAN do it if you put in the work and believe in yourself. 

Tom stressed the importance of reading to grow and make an impact:

“If you read, you can get knowledge, and you can get it fast. It’s basically someone’s life distilled down to something that you can read in a week.” – Tom Bilyeu

We have access to limitless knowledge available in books. Countless individuals who have MAXED OUT their lives have described the secrets to their success in books. When you read, you tap into the author’s experiences, and you can use their knowledge to grow mentally and progress in every area of your life! 

Growing mentally through reading and learning new things helps you better yourself to accomplish what you want. It’s okay if you’re not successful or good at something that you’re pursuing because you can continue to grow and eventually get to where you want to be!

Tom stressed that success is about HARD WORK and GROWTH rather than natural intelligence:

“I want to see what the world looks like when other people realize … that Steve Jobs quote that, ‘The world is made by people no smarter than you,’ is actually true. And so if you’re believing that these people are smarter than you cause you did bad on your SATs, I’m just going to tell you right now stop so you can develop yourself.” – Tom Bilyeu

Don’t be dissuaded by comparing your intelligence to other people. You CAN accomplish what you want, even if you don’t have the skills yet. 

Leveraging Pain and Adapting Under Pressure

Tom and I discussed how there are two motivators for everything that we do: Pleasure and pain. Pleasure is an obvious motivator. You work hard to create a better and more pleasurable life for yourself and your family. But what about pain? How does that motivate us to accomplish things? 

“Most people think that life is about avoiding the pain. I’m here to tell you right now in a very controlled fashion, it is about really experiencing the pain [and] learning from it. … Pain plus reflection equals progress. If you don’t feel the pain, you never reflect on it.” – Tom Bilyeu

Tom used the example of getting into shape. Rather than focusing on the health benefits, he would imagine his wife getting attacked and needing to defend her. He accessed his fear to motivate himself to exercise so that he could protect his wife. He focused on the pain rather than pleasure. 

Something that may motivate you is the pain of struggling financially. Whether you have experience hurting financially or are just afraid of it, you can tap into that pain to motivate yourself to work harder towards your financial goals. 

Although focusing on the pain can help motivate you to do awesome things, it’s important for you to not dwell too much on the pain: 

“If you’re spending more than 20% of your time [thinking about the pain], it will be corrosive. It will start to erode your sense of self because you’re going to feel badly. … But not being able to dip into both [pleasure and pain], you’ll just never hit the level of extraordinary. You may be fine. You may even be good, but you’re never going to be great.” – Tom Bilyeu

Tom also emphasized the importance of putting yourself in painful and stressful situations to grow. If we only experience comfort, we become weak: 

“Humans are the ultimate adaptation machine. We are literally wired from the ground up in order to grow and improve under stress and pressure. … Pressure can burst pipes, but it also creates diamonds. … You need the pressure, and yes, it can hurt, but it can also make something amazing if you’re willing to put yourself in that situation. … but once you accept that’s how it works, you can do extraordinary things.” – Tom Bilyeu

If you’re willing to put yourself in stressful situations, you’ll grow so much more. It’s like working a muscle you tear it for it to grow. Your brain acts in the same way. If you’re working in a high-pressure environment, you’ll immensely improve in the work that you’re doing. 

When Tom was copywriting, he worked in an incredibly stressful environment, but that environment made it so that he could work effectively under pressure. His ability to handle the pressure resulted in him eventually becoming a shareholder in the company. 

What kind of pressure do you need to put yourself through to improve yourself and accomplish your goals? Maybe it involves working much harder at your job or waking up earlier to meet your fitness goals. It will be difficult, and you might feel a lot of stress, but you’ll grow and move closer to MAXING OUT if you’re willing to do difficult things. 

#MAXOUT with Tom Bilyeu

I am so thankful for my conversation with Tom Bilyeu. Guys, I cannot encourage you enough to check out the full discussion that we had. We talked about so many helpful motivators and advice for transforming your life that you’re not going to want to miss! 

If you want to learn more from Tom, check out his company Impact Theory. They host a weekly  show (which is also called Impact Theory) where Tom interviews a variety of awesome guests that discuss their rise to success and how you can leave a positive impact on the world! 

If you felt inspired by this episode, share it on Instagram! And while you’re there, keep up with Tom (@tombilyeu) and myself (@edmylett). Use the hashtag #MAXOUT to share with me your biggest takeaways from the episode in the comments below! I read your comments every week, and a few select winners get all sorts of prizes from gear to coaching calls with me!

Never stop growing. No matter where you are today, you can BECOME great and leave a positive impact on those around you. You can always change and MAXOUT your life!

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