Michael Levitt, the founder of Breakfast Leadership, Inc., joins Tonya Dawn Recla to explain about being an entrepreneur. He brings people back to life. Michael lost his health, his job, his car, and his home all in 369 days. Michael teaches people on how that happened to him so that they can make the crucial changes in their lives to prevent those losses from happening to them. He has over 30 years experience career in leadership, healthcare, finance and information technology. He has led community engagement, fundraising, and government engagement, which led to thousands of patients getting access to primary healthcare, reducing emergency room visits. Listen in as he shares his knowledge about being an entrepreneur with boundaries.
Hello everyone. This is Tonya Dawn Recla, your SuperPower Expert, and I’m excited to have with us today, a delightful man, Michael Levitt, is all about boundaries. What I love is that, in the superpower world, the opening of his bio is, “Michael Levitt brings people back to life.” As you know in our world, that could mean many, many, many things.
But, what I love about it is that energetic component of enlivening in what they’re passionate about and doing what they’re gonna do. Because, those of us who get into the entrepreneur sector, we do it because we have an idea, or drive, or some vision of how we can have an impact on other people, or on the world. It really sucks when you get knee-deep in stuff and you don’t know how to move ahead, and you’re not sure who to turn to, and it feels like you can’t get enough done in the day. You look back wistfully on the job that you had and was like, “Wait, why did I leave that?”
I really love this dialogue because entrepreneurship will grow you in so many different ways, and one of the ways that it’s really crucial to embrace is this concept of boundaries and really learning where you start, where you finish, how you structure your day, how it fits into your life. If you’re a parent, a spouse, whatever your other obligations are. Or, the things that you’ve shaped in your life, and created for yourself. How do you manage all of it? This is a really important conversation for those of us who get into business for ourselves. We’re gonna talk about being an entrepreneur with boundaries. Please join me in welcoming to the show, Michael Levitt. Welcome, Michael.
Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here and I look forward to our conversation today.
Awesome. I do as well. We met you over at New Media Summit and it was just delightful to connect with you there, so I’m excited to extend that conversation to our audience.
Likewise, it was a great event.
Very cool. We’re gonna jump in and ask what are your superpowers?
My superpower is definitely your boundaries. Like some superheroes, I wasn’t born with them. It nearly cost me my life back in 2009, where I had a pretty significant heart attack. Quite frankly, my cardiologist was surprised that I survived it. Unfortunately, that set off a domino effect of some significant losses, specifically in 369 days I had a heart attack, and then subsequently lost my job. My family vehicle was repossessed, and then finally, my home was foreclosed. All in just about a year.
After going through all of those things, I realized that I was responsible for everything. Now yes, there were other factors involved, and people, and circumstances, but at the end of the day, it was on me because I didn’t have boundaries in my life to protect me from those things from happening in the first place. I took that as an opportunity to reinvent myself, and determine how in the world can I prevent this from ever happening again to me. Which, I have. My life and my career as an entrepreneur, I still currently have a day job in healthcare ironically.
When I say I save people’s lives, I see that day after day. But, specifically for me, it’s important for people, entrepreneurs, and every walk of life to have proper boundaries in their lives so they have the life that they want. Because, at the end of the day, if you’re not enjoying life as you’re going along, you’re not enjoying life period, and you’re not gonna be your best at whatever you do. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a parent, a child, anything.
I think that’s such a powerful conversation. You hear people on both sides of that equation. In the energetic woo-hoo, spiritual space is a concept of boundaries, takes on a different nuance. Because, sometimes it’s defined as setting yourself up by protecting yourself in some ways, but the application of it how you use it, is really being clear on, and kind of selfish about your time, and how you’re using it, and where you’re interacting.
It’s so easy in the entrepreneur sector that if we don’t really narrow focus and get really clear about that stuff, it does get overwhelming really, really quickly. ‘Cause there’s a million and one things you can do. Entrepreneurship opens up a world of possibilities for people, and if you don’t know how to navigate that space, it’s navigating the complexity versus wistfully thinking that it’s ever going to simplify itself. It’s like you have to imply it in your way. What are some of the things that you do with people? Or, how do you even start this dialogue when they come to you in overwhelm?
The first thing I do is I ask them, and to get them in the right mindset, have them design their ideal day. What is your ideal day? Not the life you’re living right now, but what would make you happier? Basically, what would you like your day to look like? What type of hours are you working? Where do you want to work? What are you working on? What types of things do you like to do in your free time? Whenever that is. Start looking for queues on things that are currently missing from their lives because as many have said, in the entrepreneurial world, we’ve traded our 9 to 5 for a 9 to 9 and maybe a 9 to 11. I’m not saying 9 am to 11 am, it’s more like 9 am to 11 pm, if not later.
We get that, so we start thinking about the positive things. Okay, now we have a framework on where we want to start working towards. Because, if they just say I just want my life to be less stressful, okay well, I think everyone is in that boat, but there are ways to design things. Ultimately, we do that. That’s the first step. Secondly, we take a long look at how they spend their time right now. From the interruptions that they have on a given day, and many of us have a ton of interruptions. I’m not talking about just phone calls, or someone coming to your desk, I’m talking about the notifications you’re getting on your phone. All of your smartphone apps. They all have a notification icon unless you specifically turn them off. I find some people’s phones, I look at them, and I find a sea of red dots throughout all of their apps. I’m like, “Okay, we need to change that, and let’s focus on just a couple apps that you must absolutely have, so you know what’s going on.”
Ultimately, figure out where their energy levels are throughout the day. Because, too often, I think many of us are trying to do things during the day, and our energy levels are not matching up with the things that we’re working on. We figure out okay, where does your energy levels match up with the tasks that you’re doing? For me for an example, I like to work on things early in the morning. I load up my day, tongue in cheek of course, with things that I need to work on and I need to get done in the next day or two. Most important tasks. I don’t take more than two or three of them. The afternoons, I free up for phone calls, meetings, follow-up, things of that nature. Because I know that’s how I work.
Now, I have counterparts that are the exact opposite where they like meeting in the morning, and they spend their afternoons doing the deep work and focusing on the things that they need to get done. You can be flexible about that from time to time. Especially if you’re working on a big project with someone. But, at the end of the day, you need to figure out how you operate, and how you work, and what makes sense for you, and the hours that you need to work.
It’s so funny you talk about the phone, and the disruptions, and everything else. One of my secrets to success is I never have my ringer on. I shut all noises. My phone doesn’t make a single sound … in a rare situation. It’s weird, but people are like, “How do you do that? How do you know when people call? How do you know when you need to do this and that?” I’m like, “I just know. I know to look at it. I just trust myself that if I’m immersed in something else, that I don’t need to be disrupted. I don’t like the jarring effect of the sounds.” I really started playing with that, and it’s created so much peace in my distance, and I did exactly what you’re talking about. I shut off almost all of my notifications and got really selfish around it. That was the way that I tackled that productivity piece, so I appreciate what you’re talking about. We’re gonna take a real quick break here, but before we do, Michael, where can people go to find out more about you?
They can go to breakfastleadership.com and to honor all of the listeners if they go to breakfastleadership.com/superpower, they can get a free digital copy of my book, 369 Days: How to Survive a Year of Worst-Case Scenarios.
Awesome, I love it. We’re gonna be right back folks. We’re talking to Michael Levitt about being an entrepreneur with boundaries. Stay with us, and we’re gonna unfold some more tips and tricks for you. We’ll be right back.