James Swanwick: We are live. James Swanwick here. And today we’re gonna be talking about healthy habits. We’re gonna be talking about being an entrepreneur, talking about having healthy colleagues or healthy team members in your organization. We’re gonna be talking about productivity tips and some sleep tips. And today our guest is Mr. Rex Miller, who is an entrepreneur and the author of The Healthy Workplace Nudge, how healthy people culture and buildings lead to high performance. Rex is known for turning what he describes as hopelessly stuck situations into transformation and growth. I’m assuming with not just organizations and companies but on a human being individual level as well.
Rex Miller: Sure, starts there.
James Swanwick: Yeah, if you could transform one person, you can transform an entire organization right, Rex Miller. Great to have you here, Sir.
Rex Miller: Yeah, thank you, James. I’m a big fan and I appreciate it. In fact, I’ll start out with these that I wear every single night when we do our digital sunset.
James Swanwick: Oh, nice. What do you want to throw a pair on now just so we can see just first? Here we got the fitover. It’s going nice and snug over your existing glasses.
Rex Miller: That’s right. I’ve had these for a little over a year and a half now.
James Swanwick: Wonderful. Great. Thanks for showing those off.
Rex Miller: You bet.
James Swanwick: So just tell us a little bit about what you do Rex?
Rex Miller: Well, I’m in consulting, and I evolved out of project delivery, large construction projects, and looked at the dynamics of teams and then out of that began seeing the same dysfunctions in teams and companies and culture. So it was an evolution of being frustrated with just how terrible most construction projects are in terms of friction and conflict. And that continue to evolve so now our consulting firm works with personal performance team, performance and organizational performance.
James Swanwick: Yeah, wonderful. And if you’re watching on Facebook or YouTube, just go ahead and type in where you’re watching from at the moment. And if you have a question as we go along, please do ask that question of Rex. Excuse me one second. Sure. Thank you very much just needs to get that out over and done with. Early morning where I’m recording this at the moment Rex, Brisbane, Australia seven o’clock in the morning a little bit. So yeah, if you’re watching on Facebook or YouTube, please do post a question for Rex now as it relates to either your sleep or your performance or how to get the most out of team that whether that be colleagues or staff in your organization. So, what were some of the big things that were disrupting a team’s performance that you identified Rex
Rex Miller: Well, primarily, it’s the different view points everybody has on a construction project. For example, the owner has one view of how the project should go the architect, the contractor, they all speak different languages, they all have different contract and, and compensation structures. So when you bring all of that together, the system we determined is designed to create distressed fragmentation. And then you know, in the Bible, the very first construction project, the Tower of Babel was the first project that was over budget, and late. So it’s been happening ever since. What we found is that most of the time it was communication, how you’re wired differently than me. And if we could begin there and begin to build the bridges in terms of the difference in the way you’re wired and the difference in the way I’m wired and appreciate those two. Then we can begin to move towards what we call being effective versus being right. And those are the choices do you want to be effective or do you want to be right, because we all feel righteous about our position. But we have a very limited view of everything that’s going on so we need to build those bridges of trust, to be able to work through and create early collaborative trust based teams was pretty much the shift that we took in the construction area.
James Swanwick: How many different personalities or different ways of looking at the same thing are there in the world like human beings, if we break human beings up into groups? How many different types of soul personality do we have?
Rex Miller: As many as there are people you know, we use the Clifton strengths. And what makes the Clifton strengths a little bit different than others. It’s called a psychometric tool. It’s measuring your strongest neural pathways and it’s a proxy for your natural strengths or your talents. And, and so in the top five, they measure 34 of them, and they rank order them in terms of their strengths. The philosophy is that you do better playing to your strengths and trying to fix weaknesses. And so the results focus on the top five, there’s 33,600,000 combinations of those top five. And it matters, matters the rank order, matters the relationship between for example, strategic is my top strength, achiever is my second, if I had if somebody else had strategic is their number one. And let’s say they had relator, you know, deep trust as number two, it would look completely different. In 2005, there was a company called core clarity that created a system that was a lot like a deck of cards, color coded system that helped take all these varieties and make it a little easier to work with. And so we use those two when we work with project teams, companies and cultures.
James Swanwick: Hmm, there’s other ones out there like the disc profile and things like that
Rex Miller: Yeah, they’re all good. They all do different things. And that’s where people really need to look at.disc is really about communication style. Myers Briggs is really about how you like to make decisions.
Clifton strengths is what your natural talent is and how to play to your strengths. There’s the Big Five, there’s lots of really good tools. The key is to use it for what it was designed to do and not over apply it.
James Swanwick: Is there an argument to say that if you are putting together a project that you would just hire people who have a very similar personality style to you and talk the same language and think the same way versus hiring people who completely different personality style, completely different communication style?
Rex Miller: Right, well, so the research shows that the particular wiring that you or I have doesn’t determine what role will be best at. That’s using the Clifton strengths. Now there are others that determine kind of role and function, but it determines how we will be successful. So you can imagine a very personable outgoing doctor but you can also imagine one that’s very kind of analytical and reserved. So when we come to teams, first of all, it’s just the luck of the draw, you can’t predetermine who you’re going to have an opportunity to talk to and pick. So good teams pick the best talent with the right values fit and then you use the analytics of the tools to figure out how to best play to that team’s natural strengths. And then you look at where the natural gaps are and you work around. That’s much more effective than hoping you get all the right perfect kinds of people with the right talents and strengths. It doesn’t mean we don’t look just like any team, if you need a wide receiver in football, or the equivalent especially player in soccer or rugby you look for that particular set of skills or talents. But in general, you just pick the best people you can and then you do the analytics to figure out how to play to that team’s natural strengths.
James Swanwick: And when you’re talking about you do the best analytics so as a matter of course, when you, when hiring someone, or even if entering into a romantic relationship of any kind, I would imagine as well is it , do you suggest literally going through one of these tests, whether it be Clifton or disc or it could be the five love languages if you’re in a romantic partnership?
Rex Miller: Yeah, very much. So I mean, we would avoid a lot of the Oh, I wish I would have known that before conversations. If we had a little bit of wiring, and so in my role in corporate, I am typically brought in when something goes sideways the teams not functioning well a project goes south.
And then we begin to do the assessment, we say, Oh, that’s why you really dial in on the numbers or the details or that’s why you come in with an inspirational statement everyday.
You’d like to work that out in practice ahead of time, just like a sports team. You know, you don’t wait till the game day to begin working on stress or an unpredictable situations, you practice that ahead of time, so that when you’re in that heat of the moment, you’ve got the playbook, you’ve done the practice and now it’s instinctive rather than chaotic.
James Swanwick: We’re talking to Rex Miller about personality types and how to get your project running nice and smoothly utilizing the different personality and communication styles of the team members.
Rex is the author of the book of the healthy workplace nudge, how healthy people culture, and buildings lead to high performance and we’re gonna give away a couple of copies of the book. If you’d like to be in the running for the book, leave a comment or ask a question. During the live and towards the end. We’ll pick a couple of people there and we’ll make sure we get your details and we’ll send you off one of Rex’s books now.
So tell it give us a little anecdote if you would Rex of the worst, or one of the worst organizations or teams that you saw. You don’t need to name them take your organization but an example of something that was just horrendously working or not working dysfunctional, and then how they will manage to be able to turn it around.
Rex Miller: Well, I’ll briefly reference to- I’ll go into detail on one of them. The first one, my son who was traveling with me right out of high school for a few years. This was a startup company in Southern California and there were five strong founders. I mean, strong, strong founders could not get along. Around 3:00 in the afternoon, two of them stepped out and got into a literal fistfight. Now it helped, under you know, this was a startup culture so they didn’t get up until 10 or 11 in the morning. They broke out whiskey about 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon so the whiskey kind of helped get the truth out.
One of the founders asked if I was going to break it up, and I said, No, actually, it saved me about six months of trying to figure out what the real problem is. So that was one.
The other was a very large industrial project. It was budgeted at 350 million and it was a hundred million dollars over budget with about another eight months to a year to go. Wow. That was totally at odds and I brought one of my colleagues with me, we typically don’t go into these situations alone because the consultant can oftentimes become the projected object of the anger, you know, we become the proxy for whatever the issues are.
So in that we did one of the profiles, we found that the general, the project manager and the general Superintendent were wired so differently that when they were looking at the same problem, the project manager, the head of the job was thinking that the general Superintendent was insubordinate. When all that was really happening is he was very internal and cognitive, took a lot of time to think and come to a conclusion. The other person had none of the cognitive strengths and they were all ’the do it now’ kind of strengths. So it was really tough, but we finally got them to see where the difference was. And then the project manager just started saying when he hit him, he says, Man, I’ve left up and he just said it over and over and over again.
They had a reconciliation that went to the group, the executive that flew in for this looked and said, how in the world this turnaround, and again, it was you know, we’re so wired to think and take for granted that the way we see it is the way everybody else does. And in the heat of the moment, we double down on that, and we had a moment of being able to show visibly the difference and when you can show something, you know, visibly or tangibly, it can sometimes build a bridge that was one of the most traumatic turnarounds that I was involved in.
James Swanwick: Rex when you’re out a dinner party, for example, you’re just meeting people for the first time acquaintances. Are you running a little personality or communication test in your mind with that person?
Rex Miller: It’s an occupational hazard. And I typically go one step further. I say, Hey, I’ll send you a link to take the Clifton strengths, send me your five strengths. One of my strengths in the Clifton strengths is called input. And that’s kind of the collecting, just collecting everything. It’s the geek strength. So over the years I have worked with and workshops or coached over 15,000 people. So yeah, it’s an occupational hazard
James Swanwick: To people pick up on it, if you don’t communicate it to them that you’re doing it like is the story going on in your head.
Rex Miller: A lot of times they think it’s a magic trick, you know, you start asking questions and you know, I come at it asking certain questions about tendencies or certain phrases they might use or how their closet might be organized or what TV show they like to watch. And, you know, a part of it is just my, you know, it’s just extra, it’s like as an athlete just continually exercising and trying and seeing if it works.
James Swanwick: We’ve got a question here, from a viewer on Facebook, Mia Bianca, who asks; any advice on how to choose a business to start with?
So I’m assuming that question is, you know, based on your personality and your communication type, would you choose one business or a style of business over another?
Rex Miller: Yeah, I’m not sure I’m the great one to answer that because I didn’t go after chasing this business or the entrepreneur. In 2000 when the dotcom crash hit, I was a newly minted vice president having moved my family from Washington, DC to Texas, we lost 70% of our revenue within three months. And then one day I come in the office and the owner says it takes my 10 year contract rips it up and says, we don’t need a vice president we need sales. So you can either leave now or go back into sales.
So that began, that opened an opportunity for me to pursue something which was writing my first book. And I began a parallel track kind of a side side hustle back in 2000, which then opened new doors, which then opened other doors. And you know, so I think it’s a little bit of the hero’s journey.
I don’t know if your audience is familiar with kind of that classic model where you’re minding your own business but you’re not fully living to your potential and then you get hit upside the head with life. And then you got to go through the struggles of figuring out what’s next and trying to find out that next better version of yourself. And fortunately for me part of my model of success has always been surrounding myself with a strong network of colleagues, friends, you know, tight friends that I could take some of these journeys together with. So I would say the most important thing is have some really good colleagues around that can either hold you to your best or if you take the risk can help you navigate through that risk.
James Swanwick: If we turn our attention to mental mindset in general, irrespective of your natural communication style or your natural personality. I see here that you did some improv back in the day. Is that right? It’s improv.
Rex Miller: Yes, I took an intro course eight weeks of me improv. And, you know, I wasn’t great at it. I learned a lot. I was the oldest person, the only business person and it was really uncomfortable but I learned a lot.
James Swanwick: So, mentioning that referencing some improv and maybe few other things like what are some, I guess mental exercises, personality exercises, communication exercises someone can do irrespective of what their natural style is.
Rex Miller: Well, so the big thing I took away from improv was primarily in the workshops and especially the conflict resolution workshops. In those workshops, your anxiety can amp up because you’re not sure what’s going to happen. You’re not sure it’s going to be a success or failure. But if you can be what they say in the moment, be really not trying to think ahead or trying to come up with a solution but being that respond or play into whatever the other person is coming up with not trying to resist it but trying to use it as material in the conversation. Be present in other words, that’s the hardest thing that I had an improv but it really, really helped in the workshops. You tend to go in very prepared, but over time I learned to go in prepared so that I could go off script comfortably and be comfortable with it to not try to control it but try to create whatever comes out of it. And that’s called being present. being in the moment. The yes and you know, that sets kind of a mindset of playing with or being playful with.
Curiosity if someone’s really angry I learned to be curious about it. Huh. Wonder Instead of being defensive, and those were some of the things I picked up out of improv.
James Swanwick: When you referenced Yes. And that’s, as opposed to – Yes boss. Correct?
Rex Miller: Correct.
James Swanwick: As soon as I hear the word, but I, it seems like we’re in a combat then, doesn’t it?
Rex Miller: Yeah. And what you’re really referring to is it shifts the energy. And that’s one of the things I learned in improv is really try to feel the energy in the room. Where is the energy? Is it quiet? Is it dead? Is it agitated? Is it anxious? Is it restless, and then learn how to to work with that energy and experience that energy instead of just going into content. And you’re right, the energy is everything whether it’s with an audience or a presentation, but it’s it’s really hard to be in that mindset.
James Swanwick: One of the things that I read recently was that all communication or all persuasion is really only 7% what you say and 93% how you say it. Is that your understanding? And if it is, yeah, can you just clarify and explain that ?
Rex Miller: Well, I’ve heard the same but I’ll refer to a new field called neuro cardiology. It’s the science of the central nervous system and we have the sympathetic side, which is the on button and it’s part of the vigilance, the fight-flight perform. And then the parasympathetic, which is the kind of the rest that signal they’re considering it another form of a brain in intelligence.
It is so intuitive picking up on people’s energy, whether you’re safe, whether you’re happy, and it’s all nonverbal. So tone and texture and timing. Your central nervous system is picking up on all of that and it’s 100 times stronger than the signals that your prefrontal cortex sends to the heart. And that’s why in that agitated state, you start losing clarity. And if you’re amped up, you know that you don’t think clearly you lose your keys. If you’re in a hurry and you lose your keys, it’s even harder. That’s the central nervous system overtaking the brain so I don’t know where the number comes from but I get at it through a different means and I would agree that tone posture all have more impact over the content.
And I would argue that there are personality types that are very logic based so they will try to fight battles or make a point with logic. But as anyone who’s been in a romantic relationship will know, trying to fight, any kind of battle logic is often a losing battle. And then you know, even if you win if you know, quote unquote win in your mind you still lose because the other person feels hurt that they’ve lost.
Rex Miller: Right.
James Swanwick: So, a win becomes a loss. So in that sense, I guess there’s an argument to say, let’s try to get out of winning logical battles or trying to be logical, or there’s a time and place to be logical, but that’s not necessarily the only modality that we have in order to resolve disputes only. Right?
Rex Miller: Yeah, and that gets back to do you wanna be right because we feel right or do you wanna be effective. And again, if you’re stressed or amped up, you’ll go to that default mode. So if your default mode is logic, stress will drive you even more to it, if your default mode is to kind of chit chat your way out of it, talk your way, you’ll go that way as well.
James Swanwick: So we were referencing the Swannies blue light blocking glasses before and you said that you wear yours at nighttime just on sleep and best practices in sleep.
How important is sleep in terms of staff or colleague, happiness or well being or clarity, how important is sleep to workplace functionality?
Rex Miller: Well, current research we just finished a book that’s called hole. What teachers need to help students thrive came out in March of this year. It really looked at the phenomenon on stress and lack of sleep and the impact stress has on disrupting sleep, and what that does to you during the day and at least in the United States they project somewhere between 65 to 70% of people are sleep deprived so that sleep deprivation means that you’re functioning. Not only are you functioning in a more stressed mode, but also your cognitive load your ability to take on more load is compromised as well. So stress leads to disruption of sleep.
Disruption of sleep leads to kind of a vicious cycle of stimulants during the day and you’re back at it. The research shows that you know, lack of sleep compromises your immune system. Compromised immune system leads to unhealthy coping behaviors. Those unhealthy coping behaviors lead to metabolic syndrome, metabolic syndrome leads to chronic disease. So I think sleeps kind of the the silver bullet the secret weapon, and it has been for me too.
In 2016 I was one of those individuals that prided themselves and going to bed 10 30, 11:00 at night getting up 5:30 or 6:0 and then working out, going through the day and then I started reading about athletes and the sleep. They were getting in something called overtraining syndrome. So I got two devices, I got a whoop strap in an aura ring. And it just opened my eyes. I had adjusted myself. I had accepted being tired as optimal. I was suboptimal, but thought it was normal. And then after a few nights, and then weeks of seeing what full recovery felt like, it was transformational for me. So we’ve been we’ve been on that road ever since. In fact, last week, I gave a webinar on examining sleep and making sleep a key habit and so it’s central to all of our executive coaching now.
James Swanwick: So what is your sleep routine Rex?
Rex Miller: My sleep routine? So around 6:30 or 7:00, my wife and I will watch some episode together using my Swannies and we’ll watch it on a computer screen because the intensity of a TV is much higher. And then we’ll shut it down around 8:30 at night, I will do some journaling from about 830 to 9:00. And we call that a digital sunset and we adopted that from Brian Johnson who has his own he’s got a website called optimize.me. So I picked that up from him and then I go to bed. I got my Bose earbuds. I have my eyeshades, dark room 68 degrees and get into bed and I allow my my bands to tell me what the optimal time and I really try to hit within the 9:00 to 9:30 range each night when I can and with the quarantine that we’ve had in the United States that’s been easy to do. And then my optimal sleep, the amount of sleep is 7 hours and 23 minutes. And then you add to that your strain for the day, any sleep that and you subtract your naps and that comes up with how much time you need to be in bed. So I I’m very disciplined about going by that and every day I get up around six o’clock in the morning and that’s the routine.
James Swanwick: Alcohol, I help people quit alcohol in one of my other businesses, not necessarily what society might deem to be an alcoholic even just, you know, occasional drinkers or modest drinkers. Have you seen any research to suggest that reducing or quitting alcohol can also increase Work Performance Team prefer performance organization performance?
Rex Miller: Yeah, and so I measured with my whoop strat and it showed me that in five occasions of having alcohol before bedtime, my REM sleep dropped 41%. So, those were the numbers. Now, the research if you read Matthew Walker’s book, or Smart Sleep, they recommend no alcohol prior to 2 hours before bed. And for me, it seems like I can have one glass of wine to 2 and a half hours before bed, my experience for me now this is just for me, if I have more than one glass of wine, even if it’s before two hours, it’ll affect my sleep. So I have to be very careful. And if I have a glass of wine, I will measure and see, okay. How did I do? And so, anyway, that’s my that’s my experience with it.
James Swanwick: Have you ever gone into an organization as consultants and you ask questions about specifically around their alcohol intake and asked or invited people to either reduce it or quit it and that they have seen a dramatic impact in their performance, anything like that ?
Rex Miller: So there was a company in Florida that I discussed making sleep their number one professional development habit for the leadership team and it that evolved because they were moving towards a health and well being culture and introduced them to a well being consultant to help them change their benefits package. Mandatory vacations, cutting work, cutting emails out at the end on Fridays till Sunday, but people were not adopting the habits. So with the leaders, I just went around the table and say, asked, how many hours are you working? Are you working on Saturdays? And had each person tell me when they went to bed when they got up.And that was the problem. They were all working still 60 to 70 hours a week, working on weekends. And then we asked about alcohol consumption. So we got all of them a whoop strap for a period of time and I was allowed to put them on a dashboard like you would for an athletic team and I monitored their sleep, their recovery, their recovery, the quality of their sleep their exercise for several months.
And we saw a dramatic improvement in their heart rate variability in their resting heart rate in their shift to how much time and their consistency of when they went to bed. You almost need to have something like that.Those commitment devices and do it collectively. Or there’s just too much pressure on the outside of other people in peers to get in the way. So this particular company really cut its. They were known for having a really good time. When they came together and they cut on, they didn’t cut it out completely, but they cut it dramatically.
James Swanwick: Is there an evidence to suggest that taking at least one day off of work per week or two or three or a half day or one night dramatical? So you mentioned there that people were still working over the weekends. There’s a lot of people that they love their work, they’ve built their work into their lifestyle, their lifestyle is their work. They don’t need to take time off. They enjoy working there. Is there any anything to suggest pros and cons to that?
Rex Miller: Well, absolutely, I mean athlete, so I’m a certified tennis professional. There’s no athlete in their right mind would play and work hard every single day. You’ve got to have recovery time. And even the top athletes like Roger Federer, or Tom Brady with in football or Justin Verlander or LeBron James are now they’re sleeping 10 to 12 hours a day during competitive season, and they all take breaks.
We’ve heard of the word Sabbaticals. Sabbaticals are there for a reason so you can recharge and refresh. In our household we take all day Sunday. We start Saturday evening to begin shutting down, getting our minds shifted. And then all day Sunday, we just take it easy. We read, we reflect, we talk, we share, we have some family time. And it took time to build that in. But it’s become the thing that we look forward to the most that we’re recharged the most. And I don’t have direct research on that. But I know it’s the rhythm.
The people that I follow the most have some kind of either weekly or quarterly, just get away break reflect it. Today, this afternoon, I spent three hours just thinking and journaling and out of that things and creative thoughts come that I would never have because I’m crowding it out too much. My calendar and checklists and the drive to productivity.
James Swanwick: We put a link there in the YouTube,and the YouTube comments, there is a free webinar that focuses on sleep and living younger. It’s at RexMiller.com and you can go and check out about Rex at Rexmiller.com. But there is a free webinar there that we’ve put posted in there. We’ve also popped that in the Facebook chat as well.
Rod Viaje is actually has posted a comment here in Facebook saying prioritizing sleep is the way to get results. He hasn’t asked the question, but I guess you could confirm that broad’s on the money there.
Rex Miller: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s step number one. In fact, that’s the very first step in that webinar. When I recap, value sleep, make it a priority. The badge of honor in James, I don’t know, if you were growing up in the badge of honor was how little sleep you got, you’re bragging that I pulled an all-nighter or worked on this project. And changing what we reward is part of shifting that priority to sleep.
James Swanwick: Just on the productivity element again, you said that you start to shut down on a Saturday evening so does that mean that you’re giving yourself 24 hours and then you’re starting to think about work again on Sunday evening? Or do you shut down on Saturday and you don’t even think about it again until Monday?
Rex Miller: No, I start thinking, I don’t get into productivity mode. I start thinking, imagining what the next week will be like, thinking about certain individuals that are important to me throughout the week. Large goals so I don’t get into very specifics, but I start putting that together on Sunday evening after dinner. So we work, we kind of chill through the day, we have a nice dinner together, and then around 630 or seven, I spentd about an hour, hour and a half, just thinking through what the next week is going to be like.
It’s a little bit of a visualizing exercise. And I find that helps me get prepared, not get so far in the weeds, where it’s going to keep my mind active at night, but enough to have a visual roadmap and feel at peace about what I’m going to do that next week.
James Swanwick: We’ve got a couple questions that are coming in here on Facebook and YouTube. But just before I get to those, I’d like to ask you about journaling you mentioned that you journal for about 30 minutes. So what are you actually writing down? Do you have specific questions that you’re asking yourself and that you’re answering or are you just writing whatever comes to mind?
Rex Miller: Yes a little bit of both. Sometimes I’ll just stand there and the journal will be open for 20 minutes or so. And I’m thinking, okay, what can I write, but usually something triggers that may be a comment from my kids, especially during this time, the pandemic and the social unrest and something they might say. Maybe something that I read. Maybe a conversation from the last week. I also do sketching. And I learned to do sketching. An individual by the name of Kathy Hutchison really got me involved in doing kind of graphic journaling. So I do a lot of that as well. And I find that getting into that sketching, cartooning mode, taking ideas and concepts really loosens my thinking up and helps me connect the dots instead of just doing linear journaling.
James Swanwick: Alaina Frederick says on YouTube, thank you for your comment, Alaina says I find that after a day or two off I’m so much more productive. Thank you for the reminder and then has a question, For those who are workaholics, do you have any quick tips for making sure you get the Me-time?
Rex Miller: Yeah, that’s a great question because having coached with the Clifton strengths, everybody recovers so differently. Good example is that my son is wired to be very social. And I’m wired to kind of go into my head. We did a workshop together several years ago. And so he was behind the scenes not talking or interacting.We get in the car to go back to the hotel room, I was engaged and giving the workshop all day. And I was silent. So I was in that recovery mode. And Nathan says, Dad, why do you go from engaged Dad in the workshop to boring Dad in the car. So it was a reminder to me that the way he recovers was in conversation connection, joking around and so some people may recover by cleaning out the cupboard, you know, something that’s discret. Totally discretionary. But it makes them feel productive, or they may go into their head or they may want to go and see a show or an entertainment. So that’s what I’ve learned in coaching so many people is that there’s not a one way to recover mode, but find what works best for you. And then make it sacred. Whatever it is make, you know, get some commitment devices or ways that you just do it.
James Swanwick: Is there anything to suggest that taking a week off, or a month off. or two weeks off, for it can be beneficial to someone as opposed to I’m imagining probably myself, quite frankly, as an entrepreneur who finds it very challenging to just completely and utterly shut off. I seem to build in little breaks throughout my week. So I’m not necessarily working 9 to 5, I might work, 9 to 12 and then not work from 12 until 5:00 and then work from 5:00 until 9:00 at night and so I tell myself I’m not working all the time because I built blocks of 4 or 5 hours of rest in between. So is there anything regarding what might be optimal in that sense?
Rex Miller: Yeah. Again, I think depending on how you’re wired, and if you feel rejuvenated, there’s an energy part of this too, which I’m sure you find is that on rhythm offer them Cal Newport. Cal Newport talks about ultradian rhythms. You know, we have these peaks and valleys of energy throughout the day, so I try to manage my energy.
What I find though, is that when I do go away and there’s a couple places I go for retreat, it’ll take me a couple days before I feel completely unplugged, and the anxiousness will go away to feel like I don’t have to do anything. I’m not driven by anything in particular. So I think it’s healthy. I don’t do it enough in terms of those longer retreats. But it does take me to two-plus days to just kind of totally unwind.
James Swanwick: So the idea of going away and taking a full week off to most entrepreneurs who are in businesses would be like, I can’t take that what are you crazy? Like, I got a business to run here. But it seems to be that the evidence suggests that doing that ”forcing yourself to do that probably is going to be more beneficial for you in the in the long run”.
Rex Miller: Absolutely, you know, it’s the difference between going deep or wide you know those times off allow you to go deep and reflect why you’re doing what you’re doing. You know, I don’t know how you find it, but I get so pulled into the activity of delivering work, creating new content that, you know, I just get caught in that momentum. And then unless I pull back like the whole COVID pandemic I assumed that my way. My business model was to get on a plane every Monday, fly to a client, do a workshop, do a keynote, do something like that all that disappeared in March. I mean, 90% of my revenue just disappear. Without the time to be forced to stop I wouldn’t have created the studio that you see now.
The considering, oh, I can do things differently, I can create my service into content. You can’t think like that If you’re always on the run and up. So, you know, it was a blessing in disguise for me and for my business to have this. I probably wouldn’t be doing it this way if I wasn’t forced to have to stop.
James Swanwick: I have a question here from, from Miguel Rivera, who says I’d love to get eight hours of sleep. But I always wake up before my alarm. What can I do about that?
Rex Miller: Well, first of all, some sleep experts would say it’s a good thing because you’re waking up according to your body’s rhythm. But what I would suggest is that maybe you look at the front end to see if there’s an optimal time if iyou should be going to bed earlier. So one of my questions would be, what time are you going to bed? Dr. Roizen, the chief wellness officer for the Cleveland Clinic says that the sleep you get before 2am is your best and healthiest sleep. So if you can get one or two cycles and cycles are typically about 90 minutes before 2am that’s your healthiest sleep. So I would look at the front end and let yourself wake up naturally like that without an alarm.
James Swanwick: You mentioned before that you like to watch an episode of a television show before you then go and journal. Is there anything to suggest that watching a television show or scrolling through your phone in the minutes before you go to sleep is detrimental or effective?
Rex Miller: Kill sleep. Absolutely kill sleep. And James I already know you know this, but the blue light from your computer, from your TV is telling your body it is noon time. And that’s peak peak flow of cortisol in your body. That’s again that sympathetic nervous system that fight flight on peak performance hormones. It takes about two hours once you shut it off for the night crew so to speak to go away and for the melatonin to begin coming in, to begin making yourself sleepy to slow your heart rate, to lower your body temperature. So even even looking at your phone, your phone shouldn’t even be in your your bedroom at night, even looking at it. Well you know we’ve all read that email that just amps us up. There’s social media is another evil too and in terms of good sleep. So the whole digital screen world we’re in kill sleep.
One of my clients and it’s in that webinar I give on Living Younger. He recorded that when he doesn’t wear your glasses the Swannies at night ,his REM cycle goes from 15 minutes. When he wears this one, it jumps up to 45 minutes to an hour and a half. That’s the difference that he’s experiencing between wearing the glasses and not, you know, blocking out that blue light or not.
James Swanwick: Just throw your pair of Swannies over the top again for me. So just tell, describe how you and when and under what circumstances you put your Swannies on each night.
Rex Miller: Well, there’ll be over my wife and I will say, hey, what do you wanna do? Do you want to read together or watch something together? And we’ll say okay, let’s see what’s on Amazon prime or the Disney whatever it is. And we primarily do it so we can be just sitting next to each other. And then I’ll take my laptop and we’ll put it on a little pillow in between the two of us. Put on the glasses, and then we’ll watch an episode and only one episode. Because what I found that even with these on, if we watch 90 and are typically 45 minutes if I’m watching 90 minutes of anything, it does affect my sleep. I will get amped up.
Now here’s the bio hack that I learned too. There’s a book that came out in the 1980s for arguments for the elimination of television and one of the arguments is that the brainwaves when you’re watching shows is similar to theta waves. Those are sleep waves.
So I started measuring with my aura ring in my whoop, what was happening if we watched a show and I just got very relaxed, and guess what? It registers as a nap not the whole time but a good bit of it. So that’s a little bit of biohack. I ran across in terms of gee, you let your body get in that relaxed state and you’re watching something those theta waves that you’re generating, actually slow your heartbeat enough where you’re in that parasympathetic mode.
James Swanwick: So what you’re suggesting is it’s actually might actually be okay to watch some television, like a drama or something for 30 or 45 minutes at the end of the day, as long as, of course, if you’re watching you’re wearing pair of blue light blocking glasses.
Rex Miller: Yeah, but also realize we shut it off at 8:30 and then we go to analog mode to whine the mind down. Journaling or conversation or whatever it is. We’ll just kind of relax, breathe, not disciplined breathing, but we’ll just relax and breathe a bit. Talk, but no digital stimulation, a good hour before we’re actually in bed.
James Swanwick: Well we’re just about to release our Swannies let me just grab. There we go. Were just about to release our anti blue light LED bulbs for better sleep. One I’ve been trying trialing them out this past past week or so. And you have a very, very impressive lighting behind you at the moment Rex. This is the the upcoming Swanwick light bulb and my partner and I put them in our bed lamps. And it is it’s a complete game changer. It’s like instead of having this nasty big overhead light that’s just kind of shining down on us. This is a very calming light that comes out and puts us into a sleepy kind of mode.
There’s no blue light in there so it’s not going to be affecting melatonin production.
Obviously, we’re wearing the Swannies glasses here. So we know the importance of blocking the blue light. This actually gives you an ability to sit in life without any of the blue light.
Rex Miller: Wonderful.
James Swanwick: span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Yeah. So I’ll just go here. Just as we start to wrap this up here, just a reminder that you can check out all of Rex Miller’s wonderful stuff over at Rexmiller.com. He has a free webinar there that focuses on sleep. Just a reminder that Rex is the author of the book, The Healthy Workplace Nudge- how healthy people culture and buildings lead to high performance.
Thank you for the questions that we’ve had coming in. so far. We got a few comments here. Alaina says I love the idea of drawing versus writing for journaling. Awesome Rex. I never thought of “cleaning” as that me time. That is very me. I like to have silent tasks that I can clear my head with.
James Swanwick: We’ve got Melanie says I’ve got four kids, and they also take my weekends. I’d love to get some of that me-time. Any advice for parents of young ones on getting real relaxing time, Rex,
Rex Miller: Have good friends that help you with your kids? Yeah, especially now, you know, I’m coaching people and finding that sometimes they have one of their little ones while I’m coaching. It’s really stressful to be 24/7 with all of your family and kids. So I don’t know, I don’t have a good solution for you. I wish I did. But you really do need those breaks. And if family can help, man, make a deal with your family to help you out.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I wanted to ask you a couple quickfire questions if I may. Actually, there was one other question that I wanted to get to which I missed, skipped over. Gentleman was asking, saying that I think he was in his 50s and wanted to start a business. But it was asking, did you feel that maybe it was too late for him? Is it advisable to start at that time? Everything, well, almost everything is now online.
Rex Miller: So I started my business at 58. So I’m 65 now, and I would never look back at it. You know, it was it was the right thing to do. And there who’s to say when is the right time, but having the right idea having the right network, if you can build kind of a side hustle to prototype and test your concept. I consult with a lot of startups and a lot of times they have a great idea, but they don’t have it market tested, they haven’t tested whether it’s a really validated need. Even though it might be a great idea. So that’s the biggest mistake I find with the entrepreneurs that try to launch. They don’t have enough cash flow or capital for runway. They don’t have a team of people who know what they’re doing or have done it before.
The E-myth is a great book. If you’re thinking about being an entrepreneur before you go out and do it, read the E -myth revisited and think twice. But I started mine was an eight year side hustle. You know, writing a couple books, testing getting an audience and then, I was ready to go.
You said you’re 65 Rex, is that right? You look like you’re in terrific shape, at least the way that I’m seeing you on your camera here. You feel that way?
I am. Yeah. There’s an assessment you can take called The Real Age Assessment that was developed by Dr. Roizen and it will measure you if you put in some biometrics plus your lifestyle, measures your chronological age versus your biological age. And that’s where that Whole living younger title came from. Taking that assessment about 10 years ago and determining that I would continue to do the things to help me live younger. Yeah, I’m in the best shape that I’ve been since my 30s. I’m playing the best tennis I’ve played since my 30s.
James Swanwick: And what do you attribute that to, I mean, I’m sure it’s a number of things, lifestyle choices, but if you could just summarize some of them, what would it be ?
Rex Miller: Doing a little bit every day, you know, so, shifting the habits away from the things that were killing me like sugar, lack of sleep, not exercising, that was kind of the early part of it. Then learning how to do things that made me healthier and stronger, but Taking kind of that incremental approach. Doing one physical life change habit a year and one emotional mental life change habit a year at the first of the year. And then I set January aside is a reset. It’s a dry January, it’s a media, no media during January.
Reset priorities, pick one habit and that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the year. Now, I’m not perfect on those habits by the way, but that’s been the goal and incrementally over time. I’ve continued to feel better. And I think the three things were the sleep, the low sugar diet, more plant based diet, and then the consistent exercise.
James Swanwick: I have a I think my my two biggest health concerns at the moment. I have lower back pain and I am prone to gout attacks, which is ironic because I don’t drink alcohol and many, many people who get gout attacks from drinking alcohol but I have a high high amounts of uric acid in my body. In relation to my lower back pain, do you have any flexibility, advice or tips or anything that you that have you experienced any pain? How did you overcome it?
Rex Miller: Well, I’ve been extremely fortunate.You know, I did have rotator cuff surgery about 25 years ago. In high school, I did injure my back, but that was kind of a long recovery period. I’ve had friends who’ve had back problems where Yoga has helped them. And I’m not a specialist in in back areas, but some chiropractic I know is helpful. So I’m not sure James what you’ve pursued in the past, but could be chiropractic, could be yoga. And, you know, that’s kind of outside, it’s above my paygrade in terms of recommending on back pain.
James Swanwick: Oh Rex. Thank you so much for your time. We so appreciate you giving us your expertise. And thank you to all those who have comments and ask questions, Alaina and Meyer and Rods, and Melanie and Meg.
And, Mel, thank you so much for leaving your comments. And just a reminder, you can go to Rexmiller.com to learn more.
Rex, thank you for rocking your Swannies glasses. Thank you for your words of expertise and guidance on today’s call. Anything, any final kind of sentiment to leave to our viewers here.
Rex Miller: No, thank you so much, you know a little bit every day, well It’s kind of like compound interest. It’ll add up it’ll make a difference. It’ll transform you over time.
James Swanwick: Rex Miller, thank you so much for your time.
Rex Miller: Your bet. Thank you. Take care James.