The Atlas Shrugged Interview – Part 1 of 5

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What’s up, everybody? This is Russell Brunson. Welcome back to the Marketing Secrets Podcast. And right now, I have a treat for you. Over the next five episodes, I’m going to be taking you in behind the scenes of an interview that I did with Josh Forti about the book, Atlas Shrugged. And some of you guys have read Atlas Shrugged, some of you haven’t. Some of you know the premise, some of you don’t.

And I want to preface this by saying I do not believe in everything taught in the Atlas Shrugged book. I love a lot of it. It talks about producers versus consumers, the looters and the takers versus those in society who are the creators. Right? And there’s a lot of things I strongly align with. There’s also things that I don’t strongly align with. And so I love the book, one of my favorites I’ve ever read. And so that’s the first thing.

Number two is, as I finished the book, I remember Josh Forti, who’s one of our funnel hackers, he wanted to do the interview with me and I was just like, “I don’t have time for interviews.” And we’re getting closer and closer to the election, we talked on Facebook. We were posting some comments and I was like, “You know what? The interview that I would actually love to do would be about Atlas Shrugged, looking at the whole political thing as it’s happening right now and the elections and everything, through the lens of Atlas Shrugged. That’d actually be fascinating for me,” because I don’t typically, as you know, talk about politics. Right? I do talk about religion, but I don’t talk about politics. That’s not something I typically go into, but I thought it’d be interesting to look at politics from the lens of Atlas Shrugged.

And so in this interview series, it’s a lot of fun. We talk about producers versus consumers. We talk about the left and the right. We talk about some political things. Now Josh, just so you know ahead of time, he’s very pro-Trump, very much on that side of the discussions during this interview. And this interview, just so you know, took place before the elections. As of right now, I’m still not sure who won. You guys probably will know by the time you’re listening to this, but as of when I’m recording this, we don’t know, but he definitely leans on the Trump side. I don’t really share much of my political beliefs, but you’ll get kind of what I believe and why I believe it through the lens of Atlas Shrugged over this interview series.

So I hope you enjoy it. It was a lot of fun to do, a lot of great feedback and comments. And again, we talk about stuff I don’t typically talk about ever. So this may be a one-time shot to hear inside my mind when it comes to politics, religion, and all through the lens of Atlas Shrugged, the book. So with that said, I want to introduce you guys to the first part of this five-part interview series with me and Josh Forti, talking about Atlas Shrugged.

Russell Brunson:

Are we live?

Josh Forti:

We are live.

Russell:

What’s up, everybody?

Josh:

Oh, my word, with the incredibly … I don’t know if long-waited. It hasn’t really been that long. Two months ago. So much expected podcast with Mr. Russell Brunson, himself. How are you doing, dude?

Russell:

I’m doing amazing, man. Thanks for flying all the way to Boise just for this conversation.

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. Dude, this is probably the conversation I’m looking forward to most, certainly in my life thus far, when it comes to business and philosophy and everything like that.

Russell:

No pressure at all.

Josh:

Well, it’s funny. Your wife said, “Oh, thanks so much for coming out.” I was like, “Yeah, it’s certainly … Yeah, because it’s inconvenience to me to fly all the way out here.” I will say, this is my first ever in-person interview like this.

Russell:

Oh, really?

Josh:

Yeah.

Russell:

We got the microphones set up.

Josh:

I know. We have-

Russell:

He’s a professional. I’ve never done this before.

Josh:

Literally, we have a soundboard down here. We’ve got Russell’s mic. Can you guys hear us all right? By the way, guys, for all of you listening on audio, we apologize because we’re going to answer some comments in the Facebook feed here because we’ve got everybody down here. By the way, you can see all the comments down here.

Russell:

What’s up, everyone?

Josh:

All right, guys. If you are live, comment down below. Let us know where you’re tuning in from. Let us know if you know Russell or if you know me or if you know both of us or what you’re most looking forward to. And Russell, I’m going to be honest with you. We’re just going to be super chill. Guys, we have a live audience back here. We’ve got Dave. Dave’s over there. We’ve got Jake and Nick.

Russell:

What’s up, Dave?

Josh:

Where’d Jake go?

Russell:

Jake’s working.

Josh:

Oh, there we go. Jake’s working late over there.

Russell:

Jake, by the way, designed these amazing shirts for this-

Josh:

Yeah, check us out.

Russell:

This is my Rearden Steel shirt. This is my Who Is John Galt shirt.

Josh:

Isn’t this great? Okay, but I feel like the back-

Russell:

Yeah the back I’ll read what it says. It says, “I started my life with a single absolute, that the world was mine to shape and the image of my highest values never to be given to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.” So do you guys like these shirts? These are custom made for tonight. And you guys may have a chance to get one of these, but not yet. No, not yet.

Josh:

Not yet.

Russell:

We’ll let you know when the ability … If you guys …

Josh:

Oh, man. Oh, man.

Russell:

Anyway, it’s going to be fun, but these are custom … We literally made these today. We needed some sweet shirts…for the show.

Josh:

Okay, Will says he got your text. Did you send my text to everybody?

Russell:

Yeah.

Josh:

Russell on top of it. I sent out a ManyChat, Russell sent out a text. All right, guys. Let’s lay some ground rules here. So the quick backstory behind this … And it’s going to be weird. You’ve got to look in the camera here. Quick backstory behind this is I make a post on Facebook about, what, probably three months ago now or so?

Russell:

Yeah.

Josh:

Two, three months ago. And I go, “We need some epic people to interview for the podcast. Who do you know? Tag them all down below.” And shout out, Georgie. Georgie comments and goes… “I coached Russell. You should totally interview me.” And I was like, “You’ve got to be pretty gutsy to tag Russell in your comment and tell him you coached him,” but then Russell comments back-

Russell:

And George is an Olympic wrestler. He was on the Bulgarian Olympic team. He wrestled at Boise State with me. He’s the man. So yeah.

Josh:

I commented back. I go, “You coached Russel?” And then Russell goes, “Well, yeah. He coached me. He’s awesome. You should totally interview him.” And so I said, “Yeah, Georgie, of course, you can come on. We’ll do an interview, but Russell, I’ve got an open invitation to you if you want to come back on.” And then you were like, “Sure, if we can talk about…” or no, you didn’t say sure. You said, “Can we do it about Atlas Shrugged?”

Russell:

Yes.

Josh:

Yeah.

Russell:

Because I interview a lot about business stuff and-

Josh:

I’ll pull the microphone just slightly.

Russell:

Yes. I don’t do a lot of interviews because … I feel like I’ve said, but I don’t want to say, but I just finished literally probably the fattest book in the history of books called Atlas Shrugged. And I was geeking out on it and I wanted to talk about it. I didn’t have a way or someone to geek out with, other than some of my friends here. And I was like, “If you want to talk about Atlas Shrugged, I’m in.” And then you started freaking out.

Josh:

The funny thing was is I go something to the effect of, “You want to talk about the fall of capitalism because of a boycott, because of a brilliant person and why socialism sucks? Yes, absolutely. I would love to do that,” to which you don’t give me a yes or no answer. You reply back and go, “Ha-ha. Oh, man. That’d be fun.” I’m like, “Talk about an open loop, man. Come on.” So anyway, I immediately messaged Russel and I’m like, “You better not be joking because that would just be rude.” He goes, “No, I’m totally in.”

Josh:

So about two months go by. You had a bunch of stuff. You had some fun stuff during that time, hanging out with-

Russell:

Lot of stuff is happening.

Josh:

Tony Robbins?

Russell:

Yeah, Tony, man. And it’s been chaos the last couple months, not going to lie. And as we got closer and closer to the election, I’m like, “This is an interesting conversation, post-election, but I think it’s more interesting before election.” And so was it two days ago, three days ago, you’re like, “I will fly to Boise to record this.”

Josh:

Yeah.

Russell:

“What day do you have open?” I’m like, “Only Wednesday night.” And now we’re here.

Josh:

Yeah. It was Friday afternoon. We were Voxing back and forth and you’re like, “Dude, we’ve got to get this done before the election.” I’m like, “Before the election? Oh, my word.” I said, “All right. Sounds good. What time do you have available?” And that’s when I was like, “You know what? I was going to ask you creatively, but I’m just going to ask you. How about I fly out to you?” And you’re like, “Heck, yeah.”

Josh:

So guys, that’s the backstory. That’s how we got here. And so this is an open conversation about Atlas Shrugged and kind of everything that encapsulates. I think we’ll talk about some religion, some politics, kind of both sides of the aisle there and open it up.

Russell:

Fun.

Josh:

Anything else you want to add to that?

Russell:

The only other thing I would add is, because this book, by the way, if you haven’t read it yet, is very polarizing. There are people on both sides of it.

Russell:

And I think both of us wanted to stress ahead of time that I do not believe in everything in this book. A lot of things in this book, I do believe in. And it’s interesting. One of the things I want to dive deeper in in this conversation, I’m excited for and I told you not to do Voxer. I was like, what’s fascinating to me is not, “This is what we should believe.” What was fascinating to me as I was reading this book, and we’ll get into the premise of the book for those who haven’t read it, but the big thing is producers and going out there and creating stuff and doing things, which is what entrepreneurs do. Right? And it gets in the part of greed is good. You should be greedy because it’s going to create all these amazing things, which then the byproduct’s really good.

Russell:

And part of me is like, “Yes, yes, yes, yes,” and then part of me, as a believing Christian, I hear this message I believe in and then I hear in my mind ringing Christ, talking faith, hope, charity, and love. And I feel like they’re these two polar opposite things, which by the way, we dive into politics a little bit. There are two polar opposite sides, one that believes one, one believes the other.

Russell:

And I think that there’s a happy medium and that’s what I want to dive deep into just because I don’t want anyone thinking, “Oh, Russell and Josh just believe this,” or whatever. It’s like, no, there’s sides of this and I empathize on both sides. I want to talk about both of them because they’re fascinating. Anyway, I’ve toyed writing a boy about this concept, these two things. Anyway, I think it should be fun to first time verbally ever talk about this stuff. So I’m excited for it.

Josh:

Yeah. And I would just echo that, as well. I think one of the things that often happens with me, with my … So funny. You, who never, ever talks about politics and me who doesn’t know how to get on Facebook without arguing about politics, colliding here, but is that a lot of times I get grouped into, “Oh, you like this reading. Therefore, you believe with everything.” “You read this book,” or, “You support this person,” whether it’s a political figure or a book or something like that. It’s like, by saying that you enjoyed that or that you learned a lot from it, that all of a sudden you suddenly believe everything in it. And that is not the case at all. And I’ve gotten a lot of criticism from people that are like, “How could you possibly like Atlas Shrugged?” And I’m like, “Well, this is the conversation that we’re going to have.”

Josh:

So real quick, before we dive in, I’d be curious … I want to do a poll real quick. How many of you guys have actually read the book? I’m curious to know. Hold up here. There’s two different versions of it, but if you’ve read the book, just comment below the number one if you have read the book, the number two if you have not read the book. I think that will just kind of give us a poll. We’ve got 200, 300 people.

Russell:

And if you listened to the audiobook, we’ll count that as reading, too, either way.

Josh:

Yeah. Not if you know the premise of the book, but actually have read the book and have a deep understanding of it, or not deep understanding. But have like…

Russell:

Understand the stories them in.

Josh:

Yeah, things like that, because then it’ll be interesting.

Russell:

One is read.

Josh:

One is read, two is not read. Oh, more ones than I thought was going to.

Russell:

Yeah. Me too.

Josh:

Russell’s book is so underrated.

Russell:

We’re 50/50.

Josh:

Ooh, yeah. I think we should take a poll at the end; what’s better, Atlas Shrugged or Dotcom Secrets? That’s the real question we should be asking right now.

Russell:

That would be good, that would be good.

Josh:

Okay. So we have a lot of people that have not read it, so we’ll have to go into the premise of that. Okay.

Russell:

Are you ready to get started?

Josh:

Yeah. I’m ready to rock and roll with it.

Russell:

Oh I’m ready.

Josh:

Okay. Guys, we want to lay a couple ground rules. Okay? Because I don’t know what it’s like to be Russell, Russell doesn’t know what it’s like to be me, but I think we both have a mutual understanding that we could very easily be taken out of context here.

Josh:

I think the goal, and then I want you to kind of expand upon this, is we’re not trying to take a side here. We’re trying to have an open discussion about it. This could very easily turn into something that’s like, “Why did you vote for Trump? Why Biden sucks, why Biden’s great, why Trump sucks,” something like that or certain religion. We’re not trying to convince you of anything, really. In fact, this is honestly more of a conversation for us. And we’re like, “We think it’d be cool to stream it out to a bunch of people because there’s a reason for me to fly out here and do that,” but the purpose of this is to have an open discussion about the book, the premise of the book, an understanding of it, and then honestly we’re probably going to be in our own little world over here.

Josh:

And we want you guys to interact and comment and engage and push your questions. And we’ll go back through it, obviously, but the purpose of this is not to try to convince anybody of anything. It’s simple to, at least from my perspective, shed a new perspective and give the perspective of somebody who, for those of you that don’t know who Russell is, the founder of a … ClickFunnels is a billion-dollar company, SaaS company. You have 400 employees?

Russell:

Yeah.

Josh:

400 employees. So from that perspective and from my perspective, to open your eyes to a new perspective of what we like, what we don’t like and, like I said, more of a conversation for us.

Russell:

Yeah. I think that’s good. And I think a big thing that we will talk about … Our goal is not to convince you of anything. In fact, I think I’m still convincing myself of both sides. I believe both these two things that seem contradictory, but I think there’s a middle ground and I’m excited to explore it. So it’ll be fun.

Josh:

Cool. So I think we got to-

Russell:

Talk about the premise of the book?

Josh:

Yeah, we’ve got to talk about the premise of the book.

Russell:

I might have a little mini statue behind me that might help. Can I grab that?

Josh:

Ooh, yeah.

Russell:

Okay. So folks that have not read Atlas Shrugged, I didn’t know what the premise was at first, but this is the story of Atlas. Some of you guys know Atlas was cursed to have to carry the entire weight of the universe, entire weight of the world upon his shoulders for forever. Right? And so this is where the premise of the book … All of us, people who are listening to this might guess that you are a producer. Right? Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be listening to me or to Josh. I attract, I teach, I coach, I help producers, entrepreneurs, people who are trying to change the world. Right?

Russell:

I’m curious, how many of you guys have ever felt this pressure. Right? When you feel like you literally have the entire weight of the world upon your shoulders. And if you haven’t, it’s time to become a producer. That’s first off. Second off, I can empathize, though. There’s so many times, you can ask Dave or any guys on my team, there’s days I come in, I was like, “I feel like I’m going to crack.” There is so much weight to carry this around. And I’m guessing most of you guys have felt that. It could be with your family, could be in work, could be business, whatever, but you’ve felt the weight of the world. Right?

Russell:

So this is what Atlas had to hold. Right? And so the premise of the book, Atlas Shrugged, is what would happen if the producers, the people that are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, what happens if they were to go on strike and they were to shrug their shoulders and be like, “Meh.” In fact, should I read your tile you gave me here?

Josh:

Yeah.

Russell:

So Josh, as a gift today, gave me some amazing tiles. This is a quote, actually, from the book, Atlas Shrugged, talking about this. It says, “If you saw Atlas, the giant holds the world on his shoulders. If you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling, but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater of his efforts, the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders, what would you tell him to do? Just shrug.” That’s things like, what happens to society when us, the producers, when we no longer want to carry the weight of the world? We shrug and we walk away from it.

Russell:

And the book is a story about that. What happens when these producers start disappearing and they start leaving, they start going on strike? You see society, what happens when the producers disappear.

Josh:

Yeah. It’s interesting because there is no one named Atlas Shrugged in the book and there’s nobody named Ayn Rand in the book. And so there’s concepts that she’s writing about outside of that and it’s this … How do you summarize a 1200-page book? Basically, in the book, there is a main character by the name of Dagny.

Russell:

Oh. Yes.

Josh:

Oh.

Russell:

I was going to say John Galt, but you’re right. Yes, Dagny’s the main character.

Josh:

Sorry. For the first two thirds of the book, the main character is a woman by the name of Dagny. And basically, she is one of the producers of society. And she’s not the head boss of the railroad, but she’s basically the person that runs this railroad company. And it is written, what, 1950 is when this was-

Russell:

Yeah.

Josh:

So 1950, and it’s basically this forecast into the future of a government that is basically forcing super, super strict restrictions onto private businesses and making them do things, kind of like today in America, but super, super government overreach in a lot of ways. And so Dagny is trying to keep the world afloat, more or less, by getting the railroads done on time and getting orders shipped.

Josh:

And I’m super oversimplifying, but around her, all the people that she works with that owned all these other companies that she would buy copper from or she would buy steel from or buy the railroad track from or buy the coal from, all of a sudden all these head people … Imagine people like Russell, all his friends just start disappearing. Imagine Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and Russell all just started disappearing. Right? That’s what’s happening all around her and she doesn’t understand what’s happening to them because just, one day, it’s up and it’s gone.

Josh:

And so the premise of the first two thirds of the book is showing this story of this producer who is living in this world of super government tyranny, overreach that’s super, super controlling and she’s watching all of her friends disappear and she doesn’t know why. Would you say that’s a pretty good explanation of it so far?

Russell:

Yeah. And every time they disappear, they leave behind a note or something that says, “Who is John Galt?” That’s this theme throughout the book, is who is John Galt? Who is this John Galt person that makes all the producers disappear?

Josh:

And Dagny has no idea who John Galt is. Right? She doesn’t even know, actually, for awhile that John Galt’s actually even a real person. And so once she does find out that John Galt is probably a real person, John Galt becomes her sworn enemy because she doesn’t know who he is or what he’s doing. All she knows and all she associates with is that John Galt is taking away all these producers of society and is making her life harder because … Imagine you being an entrepreneur and all of your entrepreneur friends that you buy stuff from and that you send all your people to, your referrals and everything, you buy all your supplies from, imagine they’re all just disappearing and you think it’s because of this one guy who’s taking them all away and you don’t know what’s happening to them. Obviously, they’d become your sworn enemy.

Josh:

So for the first two thirds-ish of the book, that’s kind of this premise of they’re painting this really, really vivid story of the … what are they called, the great thinkers of society? Yeah, the great minds of society, basically disappearing. And Dagny and … there’s a guy by the name of Hank Rearden, I think.

Russell:

Yeah, Rearden Steel.

Josh:

Rearden Steel, yeah. So Dagny and Hank Rearden are the two major ones left right before the big plot twist happens and you’re like, “Oh,” and then you get introduced to John Galt. I’m going to let you explain John Galt now.

Russell:

Oh, man. Okay. So that’s the first two thirds of the book. By the way, there’s movies. Don’t watch them. They’ll ruin the book. The movies were really bad.

Josh:

Yeah. Read the book.

Russell:

So two thirds into the book, she starts trying to figure out this mystery of who’s John Galt. She ends up finding him and turns out that he has been going around and getting all these producers to go on strike, convinces them to, “Look, it’s not worth fighting for anymore. All your incentives are gone. Let’s leave. Let’s go on strike,” and they leave. And John Galt’s trying to get her to leave and she’s like, “I can’t. I have to do everything in my power.” The last third of the book is her leaving John Galt’s presence and going back and trying to figure out how to do this thing as she’s watching just government regulations getting harder, and harder, and harder, and harder to the point where everyone just has to disappear.

Russell:

But one of the things John Galt and the people say, “When the lights of New York go out, then we’ll come back and we’ll rebuild society from the ground up, after the looters and the people are gone.”

Josh:

And that’s basically how the books ends is lights of New York go out and then-

Russell:

For such a long book, all of a sudden it just ends and you’re like, “Oh, I need one more chapter. Come on. Just end it.”

Josh:

And we’re never going to get it. Ah.

Russell:

Well, maybe I’ll write it.

Josh:

Yeah. So that’s the storyline of the book, but what I think we really both want to focus here is kind of the premises and the overarching ideas that the book presents, and capitalism versus socialism, and I think we’ll talk religion and politics and kind of everything that’s in that, but I kind of want to, if it’s all right with you, I kind of want to turn the conversation more towards us now and just kind of start geeking out just about that.

Josh:

So guys, we’ll obviously go back and … By the way, we want all your comments if you’re … Actually, comment below right now. Where are you watching? Are you watching it on YouTube? Are you watching it on Think Different Theory page or are you watching it on Russell’s page? Comment down below because we went to multiple different locations. So we have a bunch of different people tuning in for everything. So just comment down below. Leave your comments, leave your questions, smash the like button, love button, share this out, and we’re going to be here.

Josh:

All right, Russell. What’s up?

Russell:

Hey, man.

Josh:

All right. Dude, I’ve been wanting to, and I hate this terminology, but just pick somebody’s brain like yours for the longest time. And this book, oh, my gosh. So what do you like about the book? What was your favorite thing?

Russell:

Yeah. Well, let me tell the backstory. So 2008 is when the market crashed last time, right?

Josh:

Yeah.

Russell:

And I didn’t realize that, that year, over 500,000 copies were sold organically by people talking to me about it, talking about, “Everything’s she’s prophesying is happening right now.” And so, back then, I remember all my entrepreneur friends, like, “You have to read this book.” It was the word-of-mouth buzz that sold 500,000 copies of a book has been … The author died, whatever, 30 years earlier. There’s not active marketing out there. It’s crazy. And everyone’s talking about it, like, “What’s happening in this book is happening in 2008.” And it was just this prophecy that was being fulfilled.

Russell:

And so everyone in 2008 was telling me to read this book. I remember buying it and I was like, “This is a really, really big book.” And it took me awhile to get into it and I could never get into it. I read the first, I don’t know, first 200 or 300 pages four or five times. And then, finally, this summer, one of my very first trips where I didn’t bring a laptop since my marriage. So my wife is very proud of me.

Josh:

Dang.

Russell:

And so as I was leaving the office, I grabbed this book. And I picked it up and I was like, “I have no computer, but I’ve got this.” And usually, I bring 20 books just because I know I’m going to read. I just brought one and I was like, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to be forced. I’m on a lake for a week and a half with my kids and all I can do is read this book.” So I brought it, got the audiobook, as well. It’s funny, I do the same. I listen to the audiobook and I read along so I can listen to it way faster, that way. And I started going through it. It took me a little while. She does such a good job of character development at the very beginning, it took awhile to get into it.

Josh:

Yeah, for sure.

Russell:

And then the story hits and then you’re just like … And you couldn’t-

Josh:

It’s like thing, after thing, after thing. It’s so quick.

Russell:

Oh, yeah. And it got crazy. So for me, it was interesting because I think, if I would’ve listened to it 10 years ago or read it 10 years ago, I had never experienced any of the things they talk about in this book. Right?

Josh:

Now you don’t have to worry about it. Yeah.

Russell:

Even better. I never experienced government regulations and things like that or just those kind of things. And as ClickFunnels has grown from me and Todd to our first member, to our first thousand, 10,000, 100,000 members, 400 … I don’t know how many employees, a lot, 400 plus employees. As it’s grown, it’s been crazy because you would think all we’d be focusing on here inside ClickFunnels is the next feature in the app, next thing.

Russell:

And there’s the year where we had to spend an entire year just refactoring the software for GDPR compliance. We have regulations that come in on taxes and this. It’s constant where most of the battles we fight at ClickFunnels right now is not about, how do we make this thing better for the customer? It’s, how do we protect our customers from the government? It’s crazy. And just so many regulations and things.

Russell:

And so I have been feeling this pressure. Some of you guys may have seen my interview I did with Tony Robbins … not interview, but Tony Robbins did an intervention with me last year in Fiji.

Josh:

Yeah. That was fascinating, by the way.

Russell:

I’m so glad we captured that. It was a really cool moment in my life, but if you listen in there, I talked about … He’s like, “Well, what do you want to do?” And I was like, “I don’t know, but the pressure … I love the same, so I love everything I’m doing. I love the people we’re serving, but there’s these other pressures that aren’t the game, that aren’t the people, that they just get so heavy sometimes where it makes me want to just walk away.” And again, as I’m reading this book-

Josh:

You hadn’t read the book at the time.

Russell:

I hadn’t read it yet.

Josh:

Yeah, okay.

Russell:

As I’m reading this, it’s like-

Josh:

Did you know anything about the-

Russell:

I did not know the premise, no.

Josh:

You knew nothing. Okay, okay, okay.

Russell:

I didn’t know what Atlas Shrugged meant. I was just like, “Oh, it’s Atlas …” I didn’t know … And it was like, when I read this title, like, “What would you tell Atlas if this was happening? Just shrug.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s why they called it Atlas Shrugged.” And then I remember vividly feeling the pressure of this calling and how heavy it is.

Russell:

And there’s so many times I wish, like, “Okay, sometimes it’d be so nice to walk away or to shrug or whatever.” And so I instantly, with Dagny’s character, I was like … I feel that with Hank Rearden. I had so much empathy and understood their characters because I feel that so many times. Hank Rearden just wanted to invent his steel and put it out. That’s all he cared about, right? For me, funnels are my art. I can’t draw, but funnels, that’s my art and entrepreneurship. That’s my art. And so I just want to do my art. That’s it. He just wanted to create steel. And it’s all these other things and it’s just like, “I just want to do my steel. I just want to do my art. Why do I have to deal with all this other stuff?”

Russell:

And so as I’m reading this, I just had so much empathy for the characters because I felt like I was the characters, even though it was weird because it’s railroads and stuff like that and I’m internet, but I think that’s why I really got into it. And then I got just curious, what happens? How does this story end? Be I’m in the middle of it. And depending who’s listening, you may or may not have felt some of these pressures. As you grow, you feel them.

Russell:

It’s interesting. As ClickFunnels has grown, we’ve talked about the pressure that I feel today would’ve crushed me five years ago. Right? And so you have to go through this thing where you build capacity to handle the next set of pressure, and build capacity, and build capacity. And nowadays, stuff happens daily that’s just like, “Man, that would’ve destroyed me five years ago.”

Russell:

And so I think, if you guys haven’t felt that, as you grow, as you continue to try to get your message out and try to grow your businesses, whatever, the bigger you get, the more that pressure comes.

Josh:

Do you think…with that … And I want to continue that because it’s such a good conversation, but with the pressure, the things that are happening now daily that would’ve wrecked you five years ago or three years ago, whatever it was, do you think it’s good, though, that they would’ve? Is it good that, at the capacity that you understood, that you took those things seriously then or would it have been better for you to just be in this mindset? I know it’s not possible, but looking back, if you could snap your fingers and back then would’ve had the mental capacity to just ignore all those things and go up, would that’ve been a good thing? Or the fact that you went through all those things, does that help?

Russell:

The going through it is what makes you worthy of the things, right?

Josh:

Being able to…

Russell:

It makes you ready for it. Otherwise, just like lifting weights, if you try to squat 800 pounds, that’s what it feels like. Right? Your legs buckle and you die, but because you went through that thing, you’re able to have the capacity to hold the weight.

Josh:

Okay.

Russell:

Yeah. So anyways, the thing for me that was the big thing is reading this. And so I was just fascinated because I was like, “This is kind of my story. How does it end?”

Josh:

How long did it take you to get through it?

Russell:

I’d say about two months. I got a lot of it done on the boat, and then I got into biking for a little while, so I was listening to it while I was biking.

Josh:

That’s right, I remember that.

Russell:

I just kept biking and biking, like, “One more chapter, one more chapter.” I’m in really good shape because of it. It’s funny because one of the premises … And they don’t say greed is good, but there’s a chapter, I think it’s called Greed. And I remember, if you guys have ever seen Wall Street, Gordon Gekko talks about, “Greed is good,” and I never understood that premise. Right? In the book, they start talking about that, how greed is what drives this whole thing. Is it called Greed?

Josh:

I’m trying to find it.

Russell:

Utopia of Greed, yeah.

Josh:

And then Anti-Greed. So Utopia of Greed and then Anti-Greed.

Russell:

So what’s interesting is … because all of us are taught that greed is bad, right? That’s just, like, you shouldn’t be greedy. That’s, I think, a principle that’s instilled in most of us, but then I think about, for me, when I started this business, why did I start this business? I wanted to make money. That’s greed, right? And you think about any of us, we go through a phase in all of our lives that greed is the driving factor. Right? When I wanted to become a good wrestler, I wanted to become a good wrestler. It was greedy. I went and got coaches and spent all my time and it was a very selfish time in my life. Not that it’s bad, but it’s a very greedy time. Right? Kids, when they’re first born … I love my kids. They are so … not in a bad way, but they’re greedy. It’s about them. Right?

Josh:

Right.

Russell:

And it’s this growth phase where growth … You have to be greedy. You’re in the growth phase. Right? When you’re trying to learn, you’re sucking things and you’re learning and you’re not contributing it. You’re just learning, you’re growing. And it was interesting because, as I’m going through this, I’m like, the greed is what got me into business. Right? And it’s what got these things started and then the byproduct of that is jobs were created and things … All the byproduct of it is … I think, in the book, how it justifies it, Hank Rearden going after … he wanted to build his steel and make a bunch of money, created tens of thousands of jobs and changed the world and changes all these things.

Russell:

And so the premise of the book is that greed is this driving force that gets you moving. And it is. If you think about any aspect of your life, from sports to education, to business, to everything, it starts with greed. Now, we’ll go deeper into this. I don’t want everyone to think that I’m just into this for the greed, because there’s a transition point. We’ll talk about it in a minute, but there’s a transition point from growth to contribution that happens, but that’s in the book where it starts talking about that.

Russell:

And I remember I was on the greenbelt here in Boise, riding my bike with James P. Friel, listening to that chapter. And I was trying to think, “Is this true? Did I get started because of greed?” And it’s like, yeah, I didn’t start a business because I wanted to change the world. Eventually, that happened, but it wasn’t like it was … Greed was the driving force that moved me forward. I think it moves all of us forward such a long time. And as I was listening as I’m riding my bike, I’m like, “Yes, I understand this,” and the other half of me was like … I started thinking about my spiritual upbringing. Right?

Josh:

Yeah.

Russell:

I’m very Christian. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints and I started thinking about Christ and his teachings, which are, honestly, the opposite of that. Right? It’s like-

Josh:

Really the polar opposite.

Russell:

Yeah.

Josh:

Which it’s funny, whenever you say that, people are like, “You know, Jesus was a socialist.” I hear that a lot. I’m like, “You need to read the Bible.” Anyway, but I think a lot-

Russell:

But he definitely is way more liberal leaning, 100%.

Josh:

Right, right. And I think that that’s where Republicans, conservative, traditionally on that side of the aisle, fiscally Republicans get into trouble is where we’re like, “Yeah, we’re Christians, but we also want to get rich,” and they never talk about all this other … People like to use Christianity, I feel like, when it’s convenient.

Russell:

We call it cafeteria Christians.

Josh:

Right.

Russell:

They pick and choose the things off the menu they want.

Josh:

Right. And then they go through and do it. So I definitely want to dive further into that, but continue that.

Russell:

Yeah. So that started this question in my head, though, of just, so is greed bad then or is it good or where does it fit in the whole grand scheme of things? Because it is something that’s instilled in all of us from birth. Right? When you’re born, you’re a baby, if you didn’t have greed, you would just die. Right? It’s me. I need food, I need love, I need shelter. It makes you cry, which creates people coming to you. Greed is a driving force that’s instilled in humans from birth, right? When we come here, greed is what helps us survive the first part of our life.

Russell:

And first, I was having this conundrum. I’m just like, “God, is this book evil? I don’t know what to do with myself.” Right? But all good things in my life that happened happened initially because the seed of greed started me on motion, started me in momentum. And then I started thinking, if you’ve read the Expert Secrets book, which-

Josh:

If you haven’t, come on.

Russell:

If you haven’t, you must hate money. Come on. No, but in the beginning of Expert Secrets book, I talk about this concept, as well, where as an expert, there’s two phases to go through. The first is a growth phase. Right? I want to be an expert in whatever. You go through and you’re a consumer, consuming everything. And that’s greed, right? And then there’s this transition point where, eventually, you keep trying to grow, grow, grow, grow, trying to learn everything, going there. I’m listening to all the podcasts, I’m reading all the books, I’m growing, growing, growing. And eventually, there’s this point. I remember feeling it in multiple parts of my life. In wrestling, I felt it. In business, I felt it where you can’t continue … The ability to grow through consumption slows to almost a halt where you can’t continue to grow. Right?

Russell:

I’ve shared this story. I think I shared it in the book with wrestling. I was a really good wrestler. I was a high school state champ. I took second place in the nation. I was an All-American. And my senior year, I got invited to go to a wrestling camp. My coach was like, “Hey, do you want to come coach wrestling this summer?” And I was like, “Why would I do that? What’s in it for me?”

Josh:

Before you go on here, I want to ask you something. So you’re riding your bike, wrestling with this whole greed thing. Is this the first time that you’ve thought about greed in this way?

Russell:

100%.

Josh:

And this is, what, six months ago?

Russell:

Not even that. Maybe four months ago.

Josh:

So you’ve built most of what ClickFunnels is today and now this is the first time you’re really sitting down and wrestling with this idea of greed and is it bad, is it good, what’s the balance there and stuff like that?

Russell:

Yeah.

Josh:

That’s fascinating.

Russell:

Yeah. It never crossed my mind, really. And then it became this thing where it bothered me because I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. I don’t want to be a greedy person.” You know what I mean?

Josh:

Right.

Russell:

I’m like, “I don’t feel like I am,” but I was stuck. I couldn’t figure that out. Right? And so I’ll rewind to the wrestling story because I think it will set it up.

Josh:

Yep.

Russell:

But my senior year, again, I’d been growing as a wrestler. I was going to camps. I was getting coaching. I was greedy. I was sucking up everyone’s brainpower I could and I became a really good wrestler because of it. And then my coach asked me to go coach a wrestling camp. So I say yes, go to the wrestling camp, and I remember he’s like, “Okay, I need you to teach …” My best move… I’m really good at tilts. So for all the wrestlers out there, I’m really good at cheap tilts. And he’s like, “Teach these kids how to do a cheap tilt.”

Russell:

And I was like, “Okay.” So I walk out, there are like 30 kids. I’m like, “Yeah, you do this. You just do it like that.” And they all look at me and they go try and they try to do a cheap tilt and they all just fall apart. I’m like, “Are you guys dumb? This is not that hard.” I’m like, “Come back in, come back in. No, you did it all wrong. This is how you do it.” I show them again, like, “Go do it.” They go back out, nobody can do it.

Russell:

And then, all of a sudden, I’m like, “Gosh, they’re missing something. What is it?” So I have them come back in and I start breaking down, “Hey, for the move to work, your hips have to be here, your legs have to be here.” I start walking through all the things. And as I’m doing that, I start realizing, “Oh, the season why I’m able to do this is because of this,” and I started realizing what I was doing as I was teaching people. And as I taught it to people, then the kids started doing it and they got better and better. And all of a sudden, I started realizing, “Oh, my gosh. This move works because of this.”

Russell:

And now that I was aware of the situation, now I was able to make these tweaks and stuff on my own. And I realized that, but coaching the kids, that was the next-level growth. It was a shift from selfish greed growth to contribution. So that’s why I started coaching camps every year and that’s why I went from slowing down my progression to, all of a sudden, it sped back up again by shifting from growth to contribution. Okay?

Russell:

And so I think the same thing happens in business, right? I got in business because that seed of greed is in us. It gets us moving, gets us in the momentum. And some people never get out of that. Some people live their entire lives chasing greed and they die and it’s a tragedy, but I think for most people, there’s this transition point. And I don’t know where it happens. It happens different spots for everyone where, all of a sudden, you realize … you make the money, you started the business, and you realizing how unfulfilling that is. You’re tapping out. You’re like, “I’m not growing anymore. I thought I wanted money, but I don’t. I want growth. That’s what we’re here on this planet for, is to grow as humans. Right?

Russell:

You don’t get that and, all of a sudden, you realize money’s not fulfilling and then you start seeing the other people you’re contributing to and you’re helping. Then it shifts to … We hear people talk about, “This is about impact, about growth, it’s about helping other people,” and that’s that transition. That’s charity, love. That’s pure love of Christ. It’s that transition, but greed is the seed that gets us moving, right? And so there’s this handoff. It doesn’t happen all the time. And are you guys cool if I share scripture stuff? Because-

Josh:

100%.

Russell:

-all this stuff is scriptural. It’s not just-

Josh:

They don’t get to decide, Russell. I get to decide. It’s my podcast. You can talk about whatever.

Russell:

If you hate scripture, just close your ears and go, “Blah, blah, blah.” So I wrote down some scripture. This is a scripture because it illustrates this point. I think it’s so good.

Josh:

Also, I just want to say, Russell Voxed me and he said that this is the first episode of a podcast that he’s ever prepared for. When you said that, I’m like, “Ha! I was the first for something for Russell. Let’s go.”

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