Showing Up Authentically with Mike Brown
Powerful conversation with my Colorado friend and fellow coach, Mike Brown. Mike is a man of accomplishment, humility and wisdom. He’s had a profound impact on my life since meeting him.
This episode offers some deep insight around showing up authentically. Mike shares insights around wealth, achievement, failure, self worth, resiliency, reaching elevated states of consciousness and more.
Mike has unique experience across different facets of life. He flew jets for the Navy, founded multiple businesses, realized success as an investor and prioritizes being a family man. He was also semi retired for several years. Now he’s committed to coaching and mentoring others with his gifts.
I appreciate Mike for the way he shows up. He’s an inspiration and true source of courage. He’s also really fun to be around! I’m grateful for having Mike in my life and the space he created on this episode.
[00:00:00] Ali: All right. Welcome back folks to the Power of Space. I am here with Mr. Mike Brown, a fellow Coloradoan, a man that just makes me smile. I just had the beautiful experience with him, Brave Coach Ireland last month, and this is how we sort of came to know each other. And Mike, you are someone in my life that shows up very authentically. And I hold a high standard for that cuz it's part of the way that I want to show up and help people show up in the world.
And so I honor you for that. I also love telling my friends and family that I have a buddy that I call Iron Man. And we can talk a little bit about that. I figured it would give you at least a chuckle, but from the way that you've designed your environment, which I wanna talk about, from the way that you show up from the Halloween photo you showed me, like, you are my Iron Man, if nothing else.
So thank you for being that. Thank you for being here. How would you like to introduce yourself?
[00:01:03] Mike: I don't know if I can do a better job than that. That's hands down the best podcast introduction I've ever had the pleasure of hearing about myself. So, I do love kind of the Tony Stark through thread. I used to fly jets in the Navy. After I got out in 2012, I founded and subsequently sold an oil and gas investment firm. Sold that in 2019. Prior to selling, I started angel investing and mentoring. And then when I sold, I decided to make business coaching my full-time gig.
And so I've coached and mentored dozens of entrepreneurs at this point and found deep joy in that. And, uh, yeah, since have invested in a few more things, bought and sold an e-commerce company. But now I am back to coaching full-time and the area that I focus on is, is wealth and specifically helping people understand their relationship to money. So if you had to describe me in one sentence, that's what I do now.
[00:02:02] Ali: Yes. Unbreakable Wealth, correct?
[00:02:05] Mike: Yeah, correct. That's the name of the retreat and the brand that I'm building.
[00:02:09] Ali: Let's get into that then. So that is a strong word to me. Unbreakable. What does it mean to you?
[00:02:17] Mike: The selection of that word was very intentional because when I think about wealth, it really comes back to how am I sleeping at night? I believe that our wealth should serve us. And ultimately there's only one non-renewable resource, and that is time. Everything else we can go out and create more of, including money. So ultimately, my money should serve as a tool for how I spend my time.
Mm-hmm. And you know, in my journey, you know, you can tell I've invested a lot, I've had a lot of success. I've also had a lot of failures and I was on this train of, of kind of being rich and broke over and over and over, and, and we can dive into that further, but when I think about UNBREAKABLE, it means that I can go to bed at night and I am protected from all angles that no matter what happens in the stock market, in the economy, whatever, uh, or even if something happens to me, my family and my legacy are completely protected and that to me is ultimate freedom.
[00:03:17] Ali: Mmm. Yeah. That lands, dude. That lands immensely in valuing our time as like the ultimate measurement of freedom, of stability even. As you say, like unbreakable. That's so big to me. I have another friend that we had a little bit of discussion around this, and I just think it's cool to emphasize for people that there can be an endless pursuit of financial wealth, whereas like the people that I really look up to are in complete ownership of their time.
So in some way they have a different relationship with money than people I've seen who perhaps have a ton of financial success, but have no time.
[00:04:05] Mike: Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's not their fault. We've been told from a very young age that more is better, work hard, and you'll be successful. There's a lot of myths that we have around wealth in Western society that are actually doing us more harm than good. And for example, work hard and you'll be successful. I knew a guy that sold his company. It's a very well known company that everybody would know for $300 million dollars.
We were having a conversation after he sold, and he was priding himself on the fact that he was still going to work every day. And I asked him why he was doing that, and he was like, oh, well I gotta show my kids, you can't be lazy. Mmm.
And I'm like, man you've done everything right. You've knocked it out of the park. You have achieved the ultimate American dream. And here you are bound to your desk going and spending eight hours a day at a company that you've already sold to show your kids not to be lazy. And I'm thinking like, man, if I sell my company for $300 million dollars, I wanna show my kids that I can spend all the time with them I possibly can, right.
It's just kind of unwinding some of these deep seated beliefs that we hold sacred in our society and, and realizing maybe they're not actually serving us.
[00:05:17] Ali: Totally. So it, it brings us to a similar related topic that I wanted to explore with you, which is, achievement. In my time being with you as I see you smile, I know that you hold space for achievement, as do I, and it's been something that I've wrestled and danced with and played with. I'm using all different types of adjectives intentionally, for several years now.
In other words, my relationship with achievement now is very different than it was five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, and some of what you are sharing has this undercurrent of like, we have this conditioning to work hard, play hard, you know, and I've unpacked some of that with, with how it's been passed down and how I observed it in childhood. But I'm very curious about your relationship with that. And maybe that lends into a bit about your story, which is fascinating, at least the part that I know so far.
[00:06:13] Mike: Yeah. Thank you. This, this is definitely a topic that has been very present in my life for a long time, and as you alluded to, my relationship with what that means to me has certainly changed and evolved over the years. I definitely think it's worth talking about because again, we are kind of conditioned with these societal stories that a lot of us never even have the opportunity or the space to question and all of a sudden we wake up and 30, 40, 50 years and realize that a lot of our choices were never even our own in the first place.
And so that's kind of what I'm exploring around this. So, for me, I have to tell part of my story to give context, which is, I grew up in Midland, Texas, which, which becomes important later, which is the oil and gas capital of the US.
I was the oldest of five and my mom was a really competitive lady and my siblings and I were very competitive. And I love to tell people that it's, it's not the Trauma Olympics. You know, everyone's like, oh, well my childhood was great. Nothing was wrong with it. Hey, my childhood was great too. And if you're gonna have something imprinted on a young, impressionable mind, it's this work hard and be successful, go out and achieve. And my mom did all of that and I'm super grateful to her for teaching me those things.
But as a child, I kind of developed this idea that achievement equals love. Meaning, the more that I do well in school, the more I do well in athletics, the more external accolades that I garner, that creates worth. And that served me really, really well throughout my childhood, throughout my twenties.
You know, I went on to go to the Naval Academy, which is a really prestigious school. After that I flew jets for the Navy. And all of those things kind of contributed to this, but eventually I get to a place where now I've done everything that I'm supposed to do. I was in combat. I started and sold a company. I've got the house and the cars. I've done all the things that society tells us to do, and yet this hole that I've been trying to fill is still there and something is missing.
So now I have to start questioning, wait a minute. If I've done all the things that society told me I was supposed to do, is the answer, you know, okay, I made a million dollars that was supposed to fill this giant hole. Maybe it's 10 million, maybe it's a hundred million. Or maybe that's probably not gonna help. Maybe there's something else out there rather than hitting these goalposts and these wickets that are supposed to make us whole, maybe there's other work that I have to do. And that's when I started questioning where these things came from.
[00:08:53] Ali: Mm-hmm. The inner work.
[00:08:54] Mike: Yeah, absolutely. It's a process. And so, after that I basically went deep down the rabbit hole of coaching and therapy and psychedelics, Buddhism. I read voraciously. I learned as much as I could about how to unwind this. And as we do, I swung in the opposite direction for a long time. Mm-hmm. And, and this is something I'm just coming to, to grips with now, is that I was like, oh, wait a minute. If the answer to I'm not enough, so I'll go out and achieve things, if that's a false God, then I'll work on myself, I'll learn to be so enough that I never need to achieve anything again.
Again, as that pendulum swings, now, for a long time, that was keeping me in a place of inaction. And so just recently I've come back to center and said, hey, I realized that going out and building something or achieving things isn't gonna make me a whole person. I'm already whole and I'm, and I'm good with that. And I can still want to and desire achievement and success.
That doesn't actually make me less than, it actually makes me more integrated and complete. So I can do both. Both can be true at the same time, and that's really what I am, you know, kind of coming to terms with and working on right now.
[00:10:18] Ali: That's cool. So holding space for both the achievement oriented, the driven piece that does light you up in ways. And then the whole, I can rest, I can be lazy. Fuck it. Who cares if that's what people call it, I'm gonna be lazy, ride my mountain bike. Right. That's some of the stuff you share with me, which is real. And being able to balance these is so important cuz I can empathize with this in a similar journey, almost wildly similar, that at one point there was such hard conditioning and I didn't even realize what was happening.
And then I got to a place where I was like, fuck this. I don't even want to deal with this. I'm just gonna sit around and do whatever I want. I used to wear that badge. I do whatever I want, and I still value the freedom, but saying that had its own, like anti achievement, which wasn't always helpful.
[00:11:11] Mike: Absolutely. As we learn and grow, things that serve us really well also eventually become limitations. And so we always have to be vigilant for, hey, if I create this shift, if I create this new belief, at what point does it stop serving me or become a limitation?
And so just always being curious about that, I think is how we continue to evolve and continue to grow. And look, there is a space where I get to be really easy and gentle on myself for the guy that didn't want to do anything and was kind of retired for like five years. I did very little. And now I realize that a person outside looking in might be like, whoa, but you were buying companies and investing in all you, I mean, you were doing a lot, but it didn't feel like a lot to me. Like I was, I was spending my time exactly as I wanted to, like you said, riding my mountain bike, being very present with my children.
And I am deeply grateful for that time in my life. Mm-hmm. And now, by the way, I'm still doing those things, but I am more aligned with a real mission, which is helping people understand the relationship between time and freedom and money. And I think I bring a lot of value to that conversation and I want to share that with the world because ultimately that's how we heal ourselves, right?
If we share our own story and we share the things we've learned, even if I'm only two days ahead of you on the path, there's things that you can learn and vice versa, right? That's the beautiful thing about this journey that we call life is that we can all help each other and there's something really beautiful in sharing our experiences in order to save other people pain because that's exactly what we're trying to do ultimately.
[00:12:44] Ali: Right, right. Dude, totally. So one other thing that I wanna acknowledge to kind of wrap this big thought is knowing what you know now, how would you describe how you cultivate self-worth? Cuz you mentioned that and that's big, like when we come down to it, a lot of these decisions, these behaviors are driven by true self-worth. So have you kind of put a finger on this is the way that I cultivate it?
[00:13:14] Mike: Man, that's kind of the ultimate question. Yeah. Right. So, so thanks for the softball. I think if I had that figured out, I'd be selling a lot of books somewhere, but it's completely a journey. And the way I think about it now is not the same way that I thought about it, you know, five or six years ago, but, this is my own journey.
The first question that actually really helped me start unwinding this whole idea of self-worth is who am I without my company, or even more specifically, who am I without my achievements?
Mm-hmm. And as I started to peel back that onion and go deeper and deeper there, I actually found out that I liked who I was outside of those things, but not a lot of people knew that person. Yeah. Right, right. I was using all of these achievements and all of the success and all of these things to kind of build a persona that looked a certain way to the world that I thought people would like.
But under all of that, there was a person in there that I really liked. And that maybe if I showed that to other people, they would really like too. And it turns out that's what happened. That's exactly what happened. So as I started to strip away some of the things that I thought other people cared about and to cultivate genuine connection and talk about the things that I actually wanted to talk about, like philosophy, like politics, like spirituality, you know, things that you're supposed to hide away, like finance.
Things that you're not supposed to talk about in polite society. I realized like, oh man, like I have really cool insights here. Other people I can learn from their insights and like, these are the things I like engaging in, and that's really who I am. Not all of this external success and things that I've cultivated and put out to the world.
[00:14:56] Ali: Mmm. Yeah man, I feel that. I feel how real that was for you, so thank you for being vulnerable. I also have felt that in your presence. When I'm with you, just to reflect back the time I've had with you, my internal narrative is like Mike is saying exactly what he wants to say and not holding back.
And I say that in a way to compliment you, where I have a lot of discussions with humans that hold things back. I even had one with my wife this morning, which is beautiful. And it related to our dog passing, which is a whole different story, but I'm just honoring that you don't really hold things back, at least in my presence.
And perhaps it's because I feel it's easy to be with you and maybe we're creating a friendship, which is just fun to be with. Cause I'm like, oh, I'm learning from him. I feel like he's being exactly who he wants to be right now. From the way that you educated me on wine to the amazing story you had about your old fighter pilot days, like the recent time we had, I was like, that was fun.
That was real, and I love that you're willing to, explore that because most people aren't. That's where the fear drops in. That's where the self-worth, self-sabotage drops in, at least from my experience, is people like, oh shit, how do I need to be for these people to like me? And now you're just doing a dance. You're doing a performance, which is exhausting for me.
[00:16:19] Mike: Exhausting, man. That's such a great word to describe it. And I didn't know how exhausted I was back in those days. I had no idea because that's just, again, that's how we're conditioned to come up is, is put on this external facade for everyone to see so that nobody can see the cracks, nobody can see the mess. Right.
And there is a lot of societal pressure to make sure that people don't see the mess or see the cracks and it turns out we're all just weird, messy humans. Right, right. And, and it doesn't matter how successful someone looks on the outside, like there is definitely something happening to them where they feel completely out of control and they're doing everything they can not to share that with the world.
And, you know, I had a lot of things kind of come crashing down at the same time. I sold my company and had to completely reshape my identity. I went through a divorce that was incredibly painful and reshaped how I think about family. I then bought another company that was losing money and got in a messy financial situation, a very tight financial situation based on that. Kind of as these things are happening over a couple years, I start to realize like, man, I can share that part of myself with the world.
I don't have to hide that away. What's beautiful about that is it gives other people permission to share too. Yes. The first time I shared my financial story, I gave a talk at Baby Bathwater in Croatia, and it was amazing. I was just raw and vulnerable and opened up about, you know, how difficult it had been for me since I sold my company and like 25 people lined up afterward and they were like, oh my God, me too.
Like, you wouldn't believe the financial stress I'm under and no one knows because I present this facade to the outside. And man, if I can just help people open up about that stress and realize that it's okay to share. And by the way, we're all in this together and almost every entrepreneur I know is actually broke and scared somewhere behind the scenes. If I can help that conversation come into the light, that is what I'm here to do.
[00:18:23] Ali: Mmm. Yeah, that's real. Yep. That is so real. So one of the things I extracted from that Mike, as you were sharing, is resiliency. Clearly you've learned so much from failures and achievement, but this word resiliency just popped into my brain and you strike me as someone who's very resilient. Does that mean anything to you or is that just like part of this whole learning from failures?
[00:18:53] Mike: It's a really interesting word, and again, I think my definition and relationship with that word has changed over time. I mean, that's something that's deeply ingrained into us in the military, right? Like in military training, we learn resilience because, ultimately, when your life is on the line and the mission is on the line, you can't fail. Failure is not an option. So you have to learn how to adapt and overcome and build that deep well of resilience in order to accomplish the mission.
And so, as I get out of the Navy and I'm applying that in the business world and in my personal life, like, yes, that, that is very real for me. But the difference is, is that actually, you know, business and relationships are not combat, and there is room for failure. And we get to grow and learn and evolve based on that.
And so, the me of 5, 6, 7, 8 years ago, there's a certain arrogance to someone who's never truly failed. Mm-hmm. And now that I've kind of gone through this mess and I've come back stronger and I've thought deeply and I felt the emotion of what failure actually feels like.
There is a new humility that gets to arise that just isn't possible with someone that's never failed at anything. I'm deeply grateful for all of those situations because ultimately I come back better. I lost a million dollars on this e-commerce company that I bought, and it was extremely painful going through that, you know, I lost my freedom of time.
I lost a lot of sense of, of who I thought I was. And yet as I come out the other side of that, I am so grateful for that experience because it taught me so much more than a lot of my successes. Right. But you know, at the same time, you can't rush that gratitude. And I think that's a thing that we tend to do is when we're in a really bad situation, we go, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But I'm grateful for this situation because I'm learning so much. I'm like, I was not grateful for that during, right, while I'm going through it. Yeah. Right.
And we tend to intellectually know that that's the right answer is to find gratitude in our hardship. But I had to feel the pain. I had to feel the anger. I had to feel the disappointment. I had to feel the sense of loss. And then on the backside, now as I'm healing from that and I'm growing and I'm learning, I can go, okay, yeah. Now I'm grateful for that situation, but you can't rush that gratitude.
[00:21:20] Ali: Mmm. I love that. That is so important. Because when you're in it, you're in it and it has the different emotions, the sensations, the learning, which might not be evident. In fact, I like how you, you used several times the word pain, like it's painful, but then later, when you can sort of like let the emotion go for a bit and be with what just happened.
Oh gosh. There's so much insight in that man. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that cuz, yeah, this has actually happened recently for me where not only have I been very in tune with my emotions cause I've invested heavily the last few years, but I've also been in it in very triggered states. And even asked in the moment, like, Ooh, what is this teaching me? And it's not always clear, but a few days later, to your point, it becomes very clear like, oh, that's what that was.
[00:22:12] Mike: Yeah. It's really almost paradoxical. Like as you get into the work, we know the right answers. So we try and rush the process to get to the answer. Yeah. And sometimes it's not about getting to the answer, sometimes it's just feeling, sitting in that emotion, sitting in that pain and just feeling it and trusting that whatever we're supposed to learn from that will come and we'll be clear later, but it doesn't have to be in the moment.
[00:22:36] Ali: Mmm, definitely dude. Definitely. So something else that I wanna pull into this, cuz you mentioned a couple times. Is your experience in the Navy as a fighter pilot? Correct?
[00:22:50] Mike: I was actually a weapons systems officer, which is uh, a fancy way of saying I was Goose, not Mav.
[00:22:55] Ali: Ah, so what I was just gonna tee up before giving you some space here is that while we were hanging out in Ireland and you're sharing these incredible stories, I was like, huh, I don't actually know that much about what a fighter pilot does. And then on my way home I watched the newer Top Gun and I was like, oh shit, this is fascinating.
And so for others who may not be as educated like myself on like not only what a fighter pilot does, cuz you also shared some beautiful things in discussion around sort of your, your limits for, I would say adventure, thrill and then seeing how that has risen and you kind of have this higher ceiling than most people, at least I would argue that.
And so I would love to hear a little bit about what does it require to be a fighter pilot, cuz it is not a simple thing now that I understand it better or not an easy thing I would say. And then also just things that it taught you that you may have not shared here as it has been part of your journey.
[00:23:59] Mike: You know, I am so grateful for the experience of being in the fighter squadron and kind of being at the highest levels of aviation in that space, and I always like to say that, you know, I wouldn't trade my experience for any amount of money and you could not give me any amount of money to be in the Navy.
Ah, nice, nice. So, it's been an amazing journey. I think it's an incredible way to spend your twenties. The fighter squadron, I think is a really unique environment that not many people will ever get to fully appreciate or understand. But you know, in a lot of places in our society, we say we want excellence, but then when someone starts to go on that path, their peers actually start to tear them down.
And when I got to the fighter squadron, so first of all, yes, it's very difficult. Only a small amount of people that go into aviation within our military actually get into the jet pipeline. And so even getting there in the first place is fairly difficult and you have to do really well in flight school.
And then the training before you ever get to your squadron is also very difficult and requires a lot of dedication. But, once I stepped foot in the fighter squadron, like I realized this is a place for maybe the first time in my life that I can truly thrive. I can truly be myself and they are asking me to live up to my highest potential.
And not only am I not gonna be denigrated for that, I'm gonna be celebrated for that. We are all gonna push each other to be the absolute best that we can be. And I think it's really, really unique. Again, we say we want that in our society, but that's not actually what most people want. Right. They want to see you fail. They don't wanna see you be at your absolute best. And so finding that environment, was I think a really great experience for me.
And then, you know, taking it to the next level, strapping on an F18 and banging off the front end of an aircraft carrier, I think is one of the coolest experiences a human can have. Right. And I certainly miss the opportunity to do that. I think combat is also one of the most sacred experiences a human can be subjected to.
I remember the first time I was, I was in a combat situation and I had to drop a bomb and they started reading the nine line over the radio and I actually felt the back of my brain light up. And I kind of almost went into this God view. Time slowed down and I can just clearly remember punching in the coordinates into the system in in slow motion. And I know now that that is called, super consciousness or flow state, but it's basically a higher level of consciousness than where we normally operate.
And again, looking back on that experience, and now I realize that like I spent many years chasing that elevated state. Whether it was driving race cars at 10 out of 10, or jumping off cliffs on snowboards in the back country or pushing myself in these various arenas.
Now that I've had time to reflect and look at why I was pushing myself so far, I think it was to try and find that elevated state again. And there's just something I think unique about the combat experience of, you know, hey, I'm trying to do my job and the guy on the ground is also equally as trained and he's just trying to go home to his family the same way that I'm trying to go home to mine. There is something really, almost sacred about that experience.
[00:27:23] Ali: Uh, I would say I love that you chose that word, sacred, because there's so many ways you could have described that. Not only is sacred a powerful word, but as you shared that, I'm very activated in learning, but I don't know what that feels like. As you say, like, yeah, in combat I don't know what that feels like. It's just not something that I feel like I've experienced to be like, oh yeah dude, I get that.
So that is powerful. Thank you for sharing that. And the last thing that piques my curiosity on this topic is that, do you think you're still in pursuit of that, of that highly activated state? And if so, where does it end?
[00:28:03] Mike: I want to answer that, but first I want to touch back on the last point, which is that word sacred. I'm not even sure if I've ever used that before. But as I think about it, what that is, is an honoring of all of the individuals involved. Because, you know, what happens when we go to wars is it's these massive entities. It's governments right, clashing up against each other.
And ultimately when I think down to the individual level, like I said, like that guy's just trying to go home to his family and he's fighting for what he believes in versus me. It doesn't necessarily make him inherently evil. Now, I don't want to get into the politics of the Middle East or, you know, do I think there are inherently evil people that were perpetrating some awful war crimes there. Yeah, absolutely. Right. That's kind of a separate situation, but just, you know, kind of the, the random guy that's in Iraq fighting for his side, I have to believe it's probably not that much different for me. Mm-hmm. So that's why I, kind of used that word choice.
But as far as chasing the elevated consciousness state, that's evolved too. Like what I'm trying to do now, rather than chase, which is a word with its own energy is, of course I want to get back and feel those elevated flow states. But I can do that in a way that is honoring to my body and honoring to my family rather than pushing myself beyond the limit, trying to feel, I can actually just cultivate feeling within myself. And now I don't have to push myself to the same extreme.
And so I still love snowboarding and surfing and driving race cars, but I'm not doing it with the same amount of recklessness or pushing the envelope. I can actually recognize what I'm doing here and keep a better handle on what is safe versus unsafe, what's pushing the envelope versus not.
And still recognize that, hey, I'm probably not gonna hit this elevated, like state the same way I did in combat. And that's actually okay. And I found other tools other than just adrenaline sports. Meditation and psychedelics can both be a reliable way to hit some of those similar states. And so those have been really important in helping me to integrate those experiences as well. So I've got a lot of tools in the toolbox. I think that once you've kind of tasted that type of consciousness, I think that we all have a desire to try and get back there and I think it causes a lot of problems for veterans in our society.
You know, again, not trying to dishonor what real PTSD is. I think a lot of people do have post-traumatic stress, but I think what a lot of that is lumped in with post-traumatic stress is actually just trying to chase these elevated combat states, right? And it's not exactly the same thing. And we don't really address that or talk about those flow states and really how addicting they can be if we are not aware of the path that we're going down.
[00:30:50] Ali: That's real. Yes, that is real, man. Thank you for that. You know it segues into the very last topic that I had, which is a common theme on this podcast around realizing personal transformation. Your story and everything you shared today already lends to that. And so I suppose the question I would have for you is, how do you want to help others realize that?
Is it a byproduct of, clearly there's some, a relationship to unbreakable wealth, but now you just introduced this really beautiful, hey, I know there's people who've experienced combat and have experienced some of these really, really traumatic things. So, as you think about everything that you've experienced and all the gifts that you bring, what does that mean to you? Like how do you want to facilitate transformation?
[00:31:43] Mike: Well, I think it's back to the original kind of conversation that we had here was to just showing up as authentically me as I possibly can be and sharing my mess and sharing my journey with the world. And yeah, right now I've chosen to kind of focus on this wealth place because it's, you know, kind of the Venn diagram of two things that I have a lot of knowledge around, which is one, investing and then two is personal transformation. If I can kind of marry those two things, I feel like I have a lot to contribute in that arena, but, supporting veterans has always been near and dear to my heart.
In my very early investing days, I was investing solely in veteran owned companies or veteran led companies because that's where I felt like the biggest difference I could make, was. I've donated to a lot of veteran focused charities and still continue to do that.
Uh, I, I recently was invited to speak at Rice University at the Veteran Business Battle, and I'm always gonna continue to show up and do things like that because that's a population I care about. But, you know, I think one of the most beautiful things that I've learned in the last few years is like, there doesn't have to be a linear path. I don't have to say, oh, I'm the wealth guy now and I only get to talk about this. Or, I'm the veteran guy and I only get to talk about this. I just show up and talk about things that are interesting to me and that I'm curious about and that I'm learning.
By the way, like I always love to make sure people understand it, like I'm on this path too. I am not a guru. I'm not complete. I have not figured it all out by any means. And that's the really fun part, is that like I can share something on this podcast that I learned yesterday and it still might be able to help somebody that's listening. Right.
And so, I think that's the really beautiful thing here is that just by showing up authentically and in realizing that like, hey, I don't have everything figured out, but I know some stuff and I've learned a lot of stuff the hard way. And if I can keep people from having to experience that same pain and learn everything the hard way. You know, I tell people all the time that like my goal is to stop having the learn everything the hard way. That would be really great to just like, learn from people's mistakes rather than having to go through it myself.
So that's really what I'm trying to do here, man. Now that I realize I have something important to say, how do I cultivate that voice? And how do I share it with as many people as possible? How do I amplify the things that I can help people with. When you talk about driving self-worth, there's nothing I think that drives it easier and more quickly than showing up and helping others.
[00:34:14] Ali: Mm, agreed. And I see you. I see you, man. So not only did I feel it, I see you, I saw you light up as you're describing that. I saw it in Ireland. So man, thank you. Thank you for bringing that energy. That is a gift. I have a few fun questions to wrap up, but anything left unsaid, anything that you feel needs to tie this up?
[00:34:35] Mike: You know, I always love these conversations because they don't go exactly how I think they're gonna go, and I think there's something beautiful in that. I'm a fan of your podcast. I love the way you lead the conversation and I love the way that you ask really thoughtful and different questions than a lot of other people do. And so, I think we will just put a pin in it and leave it there because I think what emerged was really cool and not stuff that, you know, are on my standard talking points. So, thank you for leading and fostering a really cool conversation.
[00:35:04] Ali: Dude. Thank you. I appreciate that. I receive that and I will say that being with you is easy for me, because you stimulate me, you make me laugh. And those two things I really value in being with other humans. It's like, is there a little stimulation? But is there a presence to just laugh and smile? So keep showing up like this, uh, at least from my perspective.
[00:35:29] Mike: Will do.
[00:35:30] Ali: All right, brother. A few fun fire questions to wrap up. The first is, what's the coolest investment you've made?
[00:35:37] Mike: Uh, so many directions I could go with this, but, I have to say first and foremost, the best investment that I've ever made is investing in myself via coaching.
And, you know, our mutual friend and mentor, Philip McKernan, Elliot Roe, there's a lot of people that have helped me along the past. So that's the best investment I've ever made. But the coolest investment, hands down, is this amazing house that I'm sitting in. And the reason I say that is because I think that cultivating a space and designing every inch of the place where you live is an overlooked life hack that isn't talked about enough.
And it's been incredible for me for, for multiple reasons. Number one is because just the feeling of waking up in a space that I designed every detail, uh, there's a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. But deeper than that, you know, I have cultivated better community relationships because of this space that I created.
So, because I'm really proud of the space and I want people to come and experience it, I am more driven to invite people to dinner parties and host out of town guests. And so it's really created this community space whereas maybe I wouldn't have had that before. And then even further than that, as my wife Claire and I were designing this house, we envisioned hosting retreats there.
And that's not something I had ever done in my entire life, is host a retreat. And the creation of the physical space, is actually the catalyst that I needed to launch Unbreakable Wealth and start hosting retreats. So it was almost kind of a field of dreams. Like if you build it, they will come.
Designing this house with that in mind kind of gave me the action that I needed in order to put myself out there and launch that part of myself. So the benefits of investing in your space, and by the way, it doesn't have to be a custom home that was you designed from ground up like I did.
But being intentional about where you live and questioning the paradigms of like, am I really living in the place that makes me happy and even if I am living in the right place, am I living in the right house? Does my space make me happy? Because there's just something, I think about the aesthetics of where we are and designing our own space that elevates our mood and our emotions.
[00:37:49] Ali: That's so big, dude. I happened to stumble across that just the other day when you shared it on social media, it was an instant like, because not only have I been to your space, and I've experienced everything you described, which is so much fun and why I call you Ironman, or part of why I call you Ironman. But it's such a profound insight that I agree is overlooked is like how much time we spend in our space and our environment.
And the fact that you've intentionally chosen that and you're aware of it, is monumental because there's so much energy that we can lose or become drained of a lot of energy from just that subconscious repetition of being in a space that doesn't light us up. So that's beautiful. I also think it was awesome how you initially responded to the best investment. You could have easily taken that to some financial thing, but you were like, hands down mentorship. So I love that.
[00:38:44] Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:38:46] Ali: Beautiful answers. All right, brother. Next question. What's your favorite book? And I might know, but I'm gonna let you answer.
[00:38:52] Mike: My favorite book is a hard one to answer. But my most gifted book is, _When Things Fall Apart_, by Pema Chodron, which is the one I gifted you when you were at my house. I have a stack of like 20 of 'em on my bookshelf, and it's one that I, that I tend to gift. And I just think it's a graduate degree in personal development. And, I really love the four word agreements for people that, uh, maybe are just kind of starting down this path. It's a really simple framework for how to view the world.
But once they've kind of got some of the basic concepts, when things fall apart, it's just a force accelerator. And I try to read it once a year and every time I read it I'm reminded of something that's like, oh man, like I, I've really gotten away from these concepts and, and any time I find a place of tension or suffering in my life, it almost has a roadmap for me to be like, oh, I see how I'm causing that for myself and see how my, my attachment is causing that pain, or that, or that tension.
[00:39:49] Ali: Mmm. Yes. Well said. That was a really cool gift to receive, so thank you again. And that was the type of book that I read slowly cuz I was like, oh. And so I am grateful to have received that in a phase where it spoke to me. To your point, I don't think that book will speak to you if you're early in your journey because it is, it's written in such a beautiful but concise way. Where you almost have to have a relationship with failure. And this is me projecting of course, but I love that book. So thank you for that. And anyone who's curious around this conversation, I think will get immense value from that book.
[00:40:29] Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:40:31] Ali: All right, last question, brother. What's one of your fondest childhood memories?
[00:40:37] Mike: Uh, I, I think one of the coolest things I got to do, when I was young is my, my grandparents had a motor home and they took me and my siblings on multiple, like six week long road trips. So we went to Alaska twice. I've been to every province in Canada, which most Canadians have not even been to, including like Northwest territories and, and some really remote places in the Yukon.
And one memory really specifically sticks out. This, I think highlights the achievement, equals love. But, we were fishing in Northwest Territories, and my uncles were on the trip at this point. And there was one day where I caught 11 Northern Pike, and they're all, you know, they're Northern Pike is a really big fish. Mm-hmm. And nobody else was having any luck. And, I remember kind of how frustrated my uncles were getting. I mean, I'm like 10 at this time and I'm just reeling 'em in. And so I think that probably says a lot about the early part of this conversation, but it was just such a cool day.
And now, you know, looking back, I think I realize, you know, that wasn't a lake next to my house. There was a lot that had to happen for me to get there and be in that situation. And, I'm just deeply grateful for creating that opportunity for us when we were young because, you know, I, I saw a lot of things that a lot of other kids haven't.
[00:41:56] Ali: Mmm. That is cool, man. That's special. I can see you fishing at 10 years old and you also sparked a little nostalgia where I had a similar thing happen when I was at probably about the same, right around 10, fishing here in Colorado with my grandpa and my dad and my brother.
And this was when we were living in St. Louis. So it's funny how this, this is quite serendipitous that you shared that. Same thing, dude. We were just reeling in the trout and my grandfather, who wasn't a man of much emotion, very quiet, stoic man, but I could just, sense I was like, dad, why is grandpa angry? It's like his grandkids are just reeling in these trout and he is over there supposed to be the expert fisherman. So, oh, thank you for that nostalgia, man. A beautiful memory.
All right, brother. This has been a pleasure. It's been a gift. It's been a treat. I'll be excited to share this convo, and I'm excited for future experiences with you. So thank you one final time for being here and creating space for this, Mike.
[00:42:58] Mike: Man, thank you so much for having me. Like I said, I, I really appreciate, how you shape and lead conversations and, and the curiosity, the genuine curiosity that you bring. I don't, I don't think there are enough curious people in this world, so I thank you for the way you show up.
[00:43:12] Ali: Mmm. Thank you, brother.
Ali is a creator who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a father, husband, podcaster, blogger, technologist and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.