Stop Planning Your Retirement, with Shane Stirling
Published DateAuthorDan Sullivan and Strategic Coach
Shane Stirling runs multiple businesses in a variety of industries, and he’s gained a tremendous amount of wisdom in his more than eight years as a participant in The Strategic Coach® Program. In this episode, he shares some of the most important lessons he’s learned from Coach.
Here's some of what you'll learn in this episode:
What led Shane to significantly increase his predicted lifespan.
How entrepreneurs in the Program learn to manage their time more effectively.
Why it’s important for entrepreneurs to disconnect from their businesses for periods of time.
Why Shane changed his thinking about retirement.
Why Shane got “143” tattooed on his hand.
Why they’re there: A lot of people who come into The Strategic Coach Program are there because of overwhelm, overwork, and lack of structure.
True time off: Most entrepreneurs aren’t taking true time off from work.
What they like: Entrepreneurs can work strictly in the activities that they like doing.
Find someone else: If there’s an activity you don’t want to do, find someone who does like doing it.
Become habit: If you consciously make a choice every day, it will become a habit.
Start something else: Just because you sell a business doesn’t mean you won’t then start something else.
Dan Sullivan: Hi, this is Dan Sullivan. I'd like to welcome you to the Multiplier Mindset podcast.
Hi, this is Dan Sullivan and I want to talk to you about an entrepreneur who, because of his first hour in The Strategic Coach Program, decided not to die in his 80s but die at 143. So the very first hour in The Strategic Coach Program, I asked the question, very first question, they've just settled down, it's 9:00 in the morning, it's their very first Strategic Coach workshop. And I say, "Can we get clear about something right away?" I said, "Just write down." I have a form, and I say, "In this box right here, just write down the age at which you plan to die."
And everybody writes down their age, and then I take them through about a 20-minute thinking process. And on average, at the very least, they decide that whatever number they wrote down, they're going to actually add 25 years to it. And they're going to extend their life by another 25 years. That's the first thing. And the other thing they say, "Since I'm extending my life for another 25 years, I'm not going to retire. I'm going to take the business and be an entrepreneur — constantly growing, constantly creating new opportunity, constantly creating new capabilities — until the day I die."
But I've got an example here of Shane Stirling. And when he did the exercise, his very first hour. Shane is from Fort St. John, British Columbia. This is God's country, for those of you who are not familiar with Canada. In the very west coast of Canada, British Columbia is the furthermost western province. And when he did this first hour, he said, "I'm expecting to die, my grandfather died, my father died when he was in his 80s. And they had heart problems, they had blood pressure problems. And so you know, I'll probably, you know, make as much money as I possibly can, retire long before my 80s, and then, you know, just do what everybody else does. Just do it."
But he went through this first exercise. This is the first hour, the very first hour. And his whole mindset just shifted about his career. And he said, "I think I'm going to take it right to the year 2100." So he was born in the 20th century. And he got 43 years in. He just decided to add another 100 years to it.
Shane Stirling: Hi, my name is Shane Stirling. And I live in Fort St. John, British Columbia. And I run multiple businesses. Our prime business is electrical contracting company and natural gas extraction. Since joining Coach, I've started a coffee roasting company up here, and I own a self-storage. Diversified.
It was interesting — the coffee definitely came from a Strategic Coach workshop. I was complaining about the boom-and-bust cycle of the natural gas industry. We were in a bust cycle. And one of the fellow participants mentioned that, "Well, you should start roasting coffee. People drink coffee when they're working, and they drink coffee when they're not working."
And took that and connected a few dots. And yeah, started roasting coffee. Now it's just got to grow in scale. Because Northeastern British Columbia is a pretty small market. Early on, I sold myself on the idea that I, yeah, Strategic Coach is one of those things that I'm going to do for many years, and we've had a few guests in our workshops that have been, you know ,they're on the plus 20 years. And it's just okay, I want to be, I want to be that person. I think a lot of people that first come into Program are there because of overwhelm, and overwork and lack of structure.
And then as you get the Free, Focus, and Buffer Day structure, and you-- We have to have a conversation in our last workshop about the fact that Buffer Days and Focus Days are both very, very important. But the true effort in the beginning is to get those Free Days built up because most entrepreneurs aren't really following Free Day existence. And you need to have those Free Days to reset and relax and unwind. And then you can get back into the actual work of running your business. So it's just, you know, buffering and then getting the clients and getting paid, which are the Focus Days. And driving all that. And so in the beginning, that made no sense to me. Free Days?
Can't take Free Days. I'm too busy. How am I supposed to possibly take any Free Days? And then down the road, it's, "Okay, oh, I get this. This does makes sense. The Free Day concept." I mean, being an entrepreneur with multiple businesses, I'd be lying if I said I disconnect for multiple Free Days at a time without being interacting in some form with one of the businesses, but it is disconnecting for periods of time. Not always that, "No, I don't need to answer that phone. I don't need to respond to that text. I don't need to read that email right now. I can do it later."
Right? And carving out those free times to relax. And that's all the family stuff. That's really helped my family — myself and my family — to enjoy the benefits and rewards of all the work that goes into the business. Right? The Focus and Buffer thing has definitely helped me structure things a little bit better. You know, the Unique Ability, also huge, huge, huge, huge tool because it really brings to light — do the things you're good at and delegate the ones that you're not so good at. And find the people that are unique in those areas and enjoy doing the things that —
You know, as an entrepreneur, I always, you know-- "Someone's got to do it. No one's gonna like doing these spreadsheets. Who wants to do spreadsheets? Spreadsheets are horrible." Well, we have people in our organization now that just love spreadsheets. It's like giving them a prize. "Here. Please build me this spreadsheet." And they're just happy. And so it's awesome. And again, we built up team and I guess that whole team mentality is huge. Another piece that "solopreneur," Rugged individualist," you know that kind of things with being a business owner. I was lucky, I am lucky to have my brother as a business partner.
And we get along. With family, we don't get in too many scraps. So that's a good thing. But you know, the two of us is still so much to do. And as companies grew, we've had to bring in people to help us where we've identified skill. I don't like doing that. My brother doesn't like that. Okay, let's find someone who likes doing that. And it's been great. And then The Lifetime Extender is a big one that is interesting early on, kind of comes up. It came up a couple years later. And now, yeah, obviously with all the stuff with the Lifetime Extender Program. And then there's the Abundance 360 stuff and longevity stuff and the stuff that Genius Network talks about.
And it's a big topic right now. And it's an important one. The passion for that's kind of growing as well, because in the beginning, I guess I was like everyone else. And it was like, "Yeah, I'm going to make a bunch of money, and I'm going to retire and I'm going to spend all the money, and then I'm going to die." That's the average summation of everyone's plan, right? Through the Program and talking about sick — Well, no, I don't, I don't have to just fade off into that sunset. Right? I can be, you know, why wouldn't I be active and healthy and involved and sharp right up until the day stuff stops working?
Right? And it's like, okay, and when's that day going to be? Well, prior, I was always, you know, I've got some, some history of some heart disease in my family. I got some history of some other things. And it's like, okay, yeah, well, I'm may get my 80s. Yeah, I'm winning. That's gonna be a good day. The Lifetime Extender has definitely brought a bit more of a long-term view on that, saying, well, there's no reason why I can't make it plus 100. No reason at all other than my own reason. And it's all mindset. You shift that mindset from, "Oh, yeah, my grandpa died from heart attack. And my great grandpa died from a heart attack, and my dad's got heart problems, and I'm gonna have heart problems" to "There's a solution. There's a way that I can extend my life. I can get around this heart problem thing. I just need to be proactive, not reactive. Putting a focus on working out and being healthy.”
You know, prior to The Lifetime Extender, You know, I was working way too many hours and not doing anything for my health. I'm still working way too many hours. But in those hours, I carve out time to go and work out. I work out during the day. I have the advantage of being in an office, so I'm able to go to the gym and keep the exercise going, get the sweat on and also eating eating better.
Right? It's the difference of "Hey, that burger and fries looks pretty good." Or now I can say I can honestly say, "Oh, that salad looks really good too. I'm gonna have the salad versus the burger and fries." Just making those conscious decisions that before I was just floating through life, and now, well, the burger is gonna taste better. But I'm probably not gonna live longer if I keep eating that hamburger, right? So just consciously making those choices every day and then you become habit, and then it doesn't really matter. And then the business side of things for our prime business, electrical contracting business, this is a second-generation business already.
My father started it, and we didn't really think at the time that it would become a third-generation business. It was just too stressful. There's too much going on, like do I want children and my brother's children to buy into this craziness? But now it's like with, especially with The Lifetime Extender, saying, "Well, I can be involved. I can possibly be involved longer than they even want me to be involved. Because they're going to want to eventually take over the business. So you know, you don't necessarily have to do that, that handover. It's like, "Here you go. All right. See you later. Here's the keys to the car, I'm out of here." Right?
I can now be, eh, "All right, here you go. I'm going to help you out. I'll always be around and I'll slowly move my way out of the picture. But I'll never be fully gone." I think that's, that changes the mindset there as well. If you're not going to pass it on, you're you're building your business, you're going to sell it you're going to get it, hopefully The Largest Cheque from the sale of your business and then you're going to spend your days, you know, spending out that money. Hopefully, you have enough that you can pass it down for some legacy estate planning.
But then what do you do? You don't need, you're just sitting around waiting for, as Dan says, waiting for the parts to be repossessed. Right? It's like, "Okay, yeah, we're done with those, don't bring it back, bring it back to the factory." But I even look at it even if these businesses, you know, the businesses that are currently operating right now, even if we sell them, which we might, we might I mean, you know, everything's for sale for the right price. The new mindset is, that doesn't mean I'm not going to start something else. I mean, now it's like, yeah, I am going to start something else. It's like, okay, I sold that now what am I going to do?
You know, it kind of goes back to that "freedom to" versus "freedom from," right? Like, you know, you're not retiring to get freedom from your business; you're retiring to get freedom to do the next business. I think it was the first workshop is when I was introduced. Yeah. And it was "Okay, here's your age now. And when do you think you're gonna live to?" I was, again, pick mid-80s. So, it was just a number. And it's like, yeah, okay, there you go. Here's when I think we're going to go. And of course, they asked like, "Well, how are you going to feel the day before you die? How would you like to feel the day before you die?" And said, yeah, energetic, sharp.
So why die then? So then I then I put it out just over 100. On that first thing, I went to 105. I actually went 115. Just over 100. I was like, okay, yeah, that's a good reach. It's kind of that 2x versus 10x conversation, like, you know, is 115. By the time I get to there, technologies are getting better. Yeah, yes. So out of no effort of my own, I probably make it there. So then it was okay, well, let's push this out a little further. And they can more of an actual multiplier goal. And I also wanted to pick something out and remember, and so I looked at a bunch of different numbers.
And I decided that 2121 for me makes it 143 years. So I said, you know, I'd say 2121 is easy to remember. I was gonna go easy, 150 or whatever. But then I couldn't ever do the math of what year it was. Okay, 2121 is way easier. And 143 years. Great target.
You still need reminders, right? And so I decided to get a tattoo of 143 on my forearm. 143, Roman numerals, forearm right there. So the hand that I eat the hamburgers with. So when I'm eating the hamburgers, and maybe having the odd beverage that I should not have, too many beverages that I shouldn't have, it reminds me that hey, you got a goal here. Don't forget. I guess it's just a constant reminder of, here's the plan. Let's stick with it.
Dan Sullivan: It seems whimsical. It seems weird. It seems fanciful. But our brain does really interesting things when you decide what you really want that's far, far beyond what you think is possible. Here's the point about this. He now has a totally different time perspective that, right off the bat, means he said, "There's no point in retiring, I'm going to start a new company that I enjoy even more than the ones I have right now. So instead of retiring from being an entrepreneur, I'm just going to retire from a company that I'm no longer interested in."
And this is the whole type of thinking that happens in Strategic Coach. Just to let you know about this. I'm 78 years old right now. My lifetime goal is 156, which will take me to the year 2100. So I don't know who's going to whose funeral in the year 2100. Whether it's Shane coming to mine, or me going to do Shane's, but we're both on the same game plan. And people say, "Well, that's foolish. You can't do that." And I said, "Yeah, but my brain believes it. And I live each day because I have a belief I'm going to live a long time." So all thoughts of retirement are gone. Most people retire from the business they don't like and then they die very quickly.
The statistics on this are very clear that people die very quickly if they've been working out their business, they've been an entrepreneur all their life. As soon as they quit, all the clapping stops, all the influence stops. And so Shane's got a magic thought. And when you come to Strategic Coach, that's what you get in the first hour. Then, it gets really interesting after that.