Igniting the Power of Stories to Change the World
Updated: Dec 14, 2022
Note: transcription provided by Otter.AI, which is a technology company that develops speech-to text transcription and translation applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Welcome, everybody to this week's podcast episode for the Financial Freedom for Physicians podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Christopher Loo. And as you know, I talk about the four pillars of freedom: time, location, financial, emotional freedom. I bring on entrepreneurs, investors, and business owners who are doing things on the cutting edge and outside of the box. And so hopefully you can learn from both sides.
So today we have Michael Harris, and he's going to talk to us all about igniting the power of stories to change the world. So, Michael, welcome.
Michael Harris: It's really, really great to be here, Chris. I really liked the idea of your financial location, your time and your emotional freedom. And that's something that's really huge for me. So I'm really looking forward to our conversation.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I know, we met through PodMatch. What's interesting is, I'm always looking for nuggets of wisdom, always trying to learn something, trying to talk to people outside of my profession and outside of my niche, so that I can always glean insight. So tell us more about your background, your story, and we'll get started from there.
Michael Harris: Well, it's interesting. I made a few notes for our show. I always like to be prepared for whatever I'm doing, kinda like creating a recipe, or like a doctor. To make a long story short, as a physician, and any physician that's listening knows what a Fem-Pop is. So at 27 years old, I have peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis. They did a Fem-Pop on both my legs a few months later, they wanted to do another Fem-Pop. And they couldn't tell me why it was happening. My blood was normal. All my panels were normal, yet I kept having this issue. And so I left the hospital and I started doing something. And this is going to lead to a point that I'm trying to make here.
I started walking a lot, because the doctor told me to keep walking, because we build collaterals. Because the pain was from the claudication in the legs. Again, I'm 27 years old, I have an old man’s disease. And I ended up starting to take a yoga class. And as I started taking the yoga class, I really liked it. Now this is back in the late 80s, early 90s, right. And by the mid 90s, I was doing a lot of option trading, I'd made quite a bit of money. And I decided to take a couple of years off just to take care of myself because I still had some pain. I still had some claudication. But it was normally after like five miles or something. It wasn’t just calf pain. I could tell it was claudication.
So I ended up taking this yoga training to heal my body not to become a teacher. But to heal my body. It was a very intensive 11 week training. And we were doing yoga all day long. But within a couple of weeks, my pain went away. And all the pain that had been holding on for 10-12 years was gone. Well, a week later, I started teaching. And a year later, I opened up my first yoga studio. And I say this to make a point about doctors and investing in and everything else. I ended up opening another studio and partnering in several others, and then doing business coaching for yoga studios all over the world. And in the time that I did that. I don't know exactly, because we didn't track the financials as well as we could have but, we generated somewhere between 40 and 50 million in revenue, with a pretty good net on that too, lowest net about 18, highest about 35. So we were doing pretty good, right? It was the heyday. And then BAM, COVID happened. It shut everything down. I had sold my studios, and I just had my revenue share that was coming in. And it disappeared overnight. You know, in 72 hours, it was like oops, the studios were all closed. I have no more revenue, where did my revenue go?
So it's a huge lesson in diversity. So growing up, my dad owned a bunch of gas stations, he had about 100 gas stations when he ended up passing. And he taught me something very valuable about that. And this is really great for any physician, anyone listening, anyone in real estate. This just happened to be gas stations. So he owned the underlying property. He leased it to the dealer and he sold them the gas. So then Harvard came in. I forget what year it is. And they did a study on my dad's company. And was trying to figure out whether it was a gasoline and oil distribution company, or a real estate company. Because the value of a gas station on a busy corner is really high. So the whole time again, and he owned everything outright. I mean, he was a bootstrapper. And so whenever he opened up a new station he paid for it. He didn't leverage it, he paid for it. So it was just this incredible cash flow coming in.
So how do you do that with yoga studios? We started doing that same idea with the yoga studio. But again, if there's nobody to make the payments, then there's a problem there too, right? Because the yoga studio is closed. So, I've learned a lot over the years about investing, about diversification. I've made some money, I've lost some money. You had a previous guest on here recently, which I mentioned to you, Ed Carrion. He doesn't like to call himself a self made millionaire, likes to call himself a god made millionaire because of his beliefs and his relationship to God and all that. And I love that about Ed, even though he's really great with it.
So the idea about the story, where do you want to go with this?
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, well, it's really fascinating. We'll talk about health, we'll talk about failure and hardship, especially the last two years; everybody. How miserable failure can take you to the top. Tell us more about that idea?
Michael Harris: Well, I believe that we have failures for a reason. It's not just because we messed up somewhere along the way. Failures are built in. I mean, even Warren Buffett says, if he makes one good decision a year, he's happy with that. One good decision a year from perhaps the world's best investor. So how many failures has he had along the way with that? I don't know, I'd have to go back again and look.
When I look at myself, whenever I fail, it's given me, in essence, dissatisfactional motivation. I'm dissatisfied with this particular situation. And what can I do to use it to propel myself forward to gaining those areas that I want? Again, I like the way that you break it down into financial, location, time and emotion. Financial: how can that failure help me financially? If it's a particular financial error, mistake or failure? How can I propel that to invest better than next time, generate more revenue, diversify a little bit better?
Location, where am I living? Am I living in a place that I want to live now? In my case, I live in Central Oregon, 3700 feet up against the Cascades. I love where I live, because I have control of my time. So like, last night, I ran up to a remote Butte, so I could watch the sunset. So those are the types of things that I want. And emotionally, having that emotional stability. So each one of those failures, if you break it down, and you can break it down in all those different areas, or one that affects all those different areas.
So I take a look at even, like, my legs, my PVD, and my Fem-Pops and all that. And I look well, I can, decide to just sit on the couch and eat potato chips and die at 27. Or I can decide to get off my ass and actually do something about it and change it. So that would be an example of dissatisfactional motivation, which then propelled me into a business where we generated multiple nine figures of income.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: I like that. Yeah. Most stories from rags to riches are success stories. Everybody, they attempted, nine times, they failed. And we only hear about the one time out of 10 that they succeeded. And the other question is basically, why we feed the monkey mind, and how to stop it. What do you mean by that?
Michael Harris: Well, I'll give you the short version of the story.
So I was in India in 2003. I went over there because I wanted to find out a little bit more about yoga and such. And we're staying at Agra, where the Taj Mahal is, I think it's called the Agra Palace Hotel. And they have these guys walking around the grounds with these long 15-20 foot sticks to chase away the monkeys, right? Because the monkeys love to jump up on the balconies and find any open door, because they can see that bowl of fruit in there. And if they found an open door, they would hop in.
Well, if there was somebody in that room in the shower, and they come out and find a roomful of monkeys, the monkeys are pissed, right? They don't like it, they're snarling, they might bite you all that other type of stuff. So the lesson there is, it’s very simple: keep your door closed, then the monkeys can't get in. They may jump up against a window, with which they will do so.
So how does that affect the mind? Well, I used to think, because everybody's experienced some form of monkey mind or mind jumping all over the place and all that. I used to think that if I had a bowl of bananas there, I was keeping the monkeys happy. Where I really wasn't. I was just bringing them in because they wanted to be fed more. So it took a little bit, but I stopped putting those bananas and that fruit out for the monkeys, to appease them. And eventually, they went away to some other open door. So instead of getting into my sliding door, why might they have to go to somebody else's sliding door? You know, maybe eventually they'll learn to close it, too.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: I like that analogy. So you've written books. And one one thing that was interesting is quantum leaps. And you talk about taking one, anytime. Would you expand upon that concept?
Michael Harris: Well, I think it's a position, you can appreciate this, and any physician or anybody listening for that matter. Now, I like to study nature, I like to study how things happen. You know, I take a look at myself, I mean, perfectly healthy one moment, and then the next moment, they're cutting me open, perfectly sick one moment, the next moment, you're healthy again, sometimes without explanation. Either way, it just happens.
You take a look at nature. There's an owl in Africa, the northern white owl. It's called a transformer owl. It sits up on the branch of a tree, and it can make itself look really big to scare somebody off, or it can shrink down really small in height and make itself look like a branch, depending upon what's going on in its world at the time. There's lots of animals that can do that. That's essentially a quantum leap.
A quantum leap is essentially a change of state, from one state to another. A sea cucumber, some sea cucumbers can go from soft and gushy, to rock solid, hard in an instant. So these quantum leaps, these so called quantum leaps, which is really a change of state, happens really quickly. As a physician, they try to instigate some type of healing process, whether that's surgical, whether it's pharmaceutical, whether it's emotional, but to create some type of change in state, to create health. Well, what can we do in our lives? The same thing.
So if you have dissatisfactional motivation, you can decide in a moment like that, that you're going to use that for something different, and change your mind. A man asking a woman to marry him; at that particular moment, there is an instant change of state. That state of shock, the emotion, the blushing, whatever it might be. That's a quantum leap. You know, it's a change of state. So I believe those things happen all the time around us. So what can we do to create our own quantum leap? That's a question for everybody. What can you do to create your own quantum leap?
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: So, can you give us an example? How does nature teach us to take quantum leaps?
Michael Harris: Well, years ago.. I like to relate things to experience, right? So up in the mountains here, where I live, there's a lake up there, that by the end of the summer, by early fall, it's pretty mud. The rest of the year, it's either frozen or it's got a couple inches of water. But standing out in the middle of the lake one day, it was October. And all of a sudden, a snow storm came in, an unexpected snow storm instantly started snowing. And if I hadn't gotten out of there, well, it happened anyway.
But I had to get out of there. Because before you knew it, there was six, eight inches of snow on the ground. So, there's another example of nature creating a quantum leap, an instant change of state, from one state to another state. You know, and I look at it, I went up to the top of the Butte yesterday, I mentioned this before. We went up to the top of the Butte, and all of a sudden, I'm sitting up there, the sun goes down, the temperature drops about 10 or 12 degrees, just like that. So nature keeps changing. It stays constant. Constantly. You know?
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. And these days, it's going from winter to summer, almost overnight. That's heard of. That can happen these days.
Michael Harris: Yeah. It's gonna be nearly 100 degrees here today.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. One thing I found interesting in your bio, was that each year you do a 10k that starts at 7,700 feet, ends at 9,800 feet. And it just fascinates me. What motivates you to do that?
Michael Harris: Well, every time I hike up the Butte, it's the same thing, because 35 years ago, they were going to amputate my legs, and they told me that I would die within six months. 35 years ago, and I'm still here and alive. So, I walk every day, I keep my body moving. And I can prove to myself from doing that 10k, the Steens Rim Run, which comes up the first weekend of August every year. It's like proving to myself that I've overcome this condition, that I'm healthy, I'm strong, and that if I keep my body in motion like this, it's likely that it's going to stay healthy for a longer period of time.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. But plus at that altitude, oxygen levels are lower. So it conditions your muscles in your body to function under oxygen deprived conditions. So it makes you stronger.
Michael Harris: I mean, I live at 3700. It starts at 7700. But we still go a few days early just to acclimate. Because it is higher. I mean, it makes a difference.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: You talked about yoga, and really, I think yoga has so many benefits, beyond the physical. What has practicing teaching yoga taught you about the law of attraction, and the law of GOYA?
Michael Harris: The law of GOYA. Well, the law of attraction. Have you heard of the book, The Secret?
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: By Rhonda Byrne Correct?
Michael Harris: Right. Rhonda Byrne, it's fairly good when it came out. Now, it's almost 20 years old. And it's a book about the law of attraction. Some people think that if they sit on their couch long enough, their Aunt Mable is gonna drop 10 million bucks in their apartment. Probably not gonna happen. Right? So the law of attraction is really great. But you need the law of GOYA to make it work. And the law of GOYA is Get Off Your Ass. You actually have to take action.
So I like to describe it as a rice bowl. You know, like a veggie rice bowl. In my mind, I wanted to have a veggie rice bowl for dinner. I may be thinking okay, I'm digging tofu, broccoli, green beans, garlic, rice, whatever. And so, I'm now having this vision of what I want. I can picture it, I can taste it. The whole thing. As an example. Then I go to the store, I get the rice, I get the veggies, I get tofu, soy sauce, whatever ingredients it is. I come home, I put it together and now it's sitting on my dinner table to eat. To me, that is the law of attraction. We are doing it all the time. And whatever we create in our mind - whether it's going to get a rice bowl, whether it's investing in something, whether it's buying a car; I mean I have cars in my mind that I have in my mind right now, like I want a new Mercedes van. I have that in my mind and what I want and how it looks and what it's going to be on the inside, and what the benches and the bed are going to look like. So now I gotta go out and get it, order it. Have it customized for me. And I've done the action to make the law of attraction work.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. One thing that came to mind is, if you want something physical, you have to actually put in the work because you're just converting energy. So you put in the work. And that's how money rewards everything. There's no free lunch for anything.
It's been a fascinating discussion. I really love your approach. And I love your ideas. And you talk about stories, which we didn't get into. I know a lot of listeners would be interested in reading your book, visiting your website, contacting you, and maybe even working with you. So how can they do that?
Michael Harris: I’ll briefly mention one thing about stories; we've been telling stories since the beginning of time. We used to go out there and hunt a dinosaur and drag it back and eat it. And we would tell our family and friends what we did to take down that dinosaur. Second, third grade, we do show and tell. It's our first speaker training event. You don't know it at the time, but you get up and you tell all your friends about this rock you found over the weekend, right?
So we already know how to speak. It's just really making that stronger, building that, increasing the skills for speakers. I love storytelling. I love helping other people get their stories out. My story's gonna affect somebody, your story's gonna affect somebody, and vice versa. Maybe your story won't affect some and my story won't affect some, you know. But if we're all out there telling our stories, like even what you're doing here, bring all your guests in to do some storytelling. It's kind of the modern way of sitting around the campfire and talking about dinosaurs, right?
So I partnered with somebody else. And we started a small company called Endless Stages. And we really help people speak on any platform, whether it's podcasting. We do a lot with PodMatch and Alex over at PodMatch, whether it's stage, virtual, wherever it is, you want to get your story out. So if you go to MichaelBHarris.com, you can opt in there. And it gives you free resources, absolutely no charge, for various resources, videos, materials, on how to be a better speaker, how to overcome stage fright, how to create a signature story; those types of things, just to get your voice out there. Because I think in today's world, the more voices we get out, the better.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, so wonderfully said. So, Michael, it was a great conversation. I really enjoyed it. And I think the audience came away with a lot of wisdom and nuggets. So thanks so much, and we look forward to hearing more about your future successes.
Michael Harris: Thanks, Chris. Great to be here.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you’re new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I’ll see you there in on next week’s show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via my website or email at Chris@drchrisloomdphd.com. I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!
Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.