Episode 9: Bucket List, with Steve Long
Steve Long is the expert on success in the business world. He is a business coach for high-income/net-worth individuals as well as keynote speaker, world sailor and author of the the book “Sail Free.”
He is the no BS guy that lives by his Bucket List and makes sure his clients get what they want from life.
Steve also offers online training as well as exclusive motivational retreats on his catamarans in the Caribbeans. For the past 4 years, he has been training coaches to help him widen his audience.
Hi, it’s Colin Sprake here, and I’m super excited because on our show today I’ve got Steve Long with me. Now let me tell you a little bit about this gentleman. He’s grown some amazing businesses, sold businesses, very successful at what he does, and he’s going to tell you the brutal truth about what’s really helped him grow and get to where he is in life today and some of the key things he’s done. Some of these things he’s going to tell you today, you might think, “Well, that’s not really business-related,” but it really is business-related because your personal life really impacts your business life in terms of how you do things, what you want to achieve in your life. It’s not always just about achieving or making money in your business. That gives you the cash to do what you want to do.
So I’m going to get going with Steve here today, and one thing I want you to think about, for all you listeners out there, is make sure that you are really open. You might be in your car right now. You might be listening to this while you’re running, jogging, whatever it might be. Remember, I’m all about take action. Because if you don’t take action, this podcast is absolutely useless for you. Remember, knowledge is only potential power. Implementation is power.
So I’m really excited to have Steve Long with me. Steve’s from Montreal. You’ll hear he’s got a beautiful accent, a good French accent all the way from Quebec. But the key thing I want you to understand, too, is that I met Steve not just from through our associations, what have you, I met him at the National Speakers Association at Influence 2017 down in Orlando, and we connected. I was on stage. I did one of the main presentations on stage, and then I got to connect with Steve afterwards, had a glass of wine with him, we got chatting, and we’ve formed a friendship since then. For me, this man is extremely good at what he does, so welcome, Steve.
Thank you, Colin. Thanks for having me on your podcast. I am very happy to be with you, so good to be with you.
Yeah, it’s great. It’s great to have you with me. So, Steve, tell me, let’s give the listeners a little bit more overview of who you are, what you’ve done, so people can really understand who this man is that they’re going to be able to listen to today who’s going to give them some solid gold strategies on getting their lives and businesses to the next level.
Sure, man. Thank you. Basically, I’m 45 now. I’ve been doing some business since as long as I can remember. I’d say around age 17 I started my first businesses ideas, and that converted, eventually, to my first business around 23 years old where I owned a service provider Internet, right before even the cable companies and the telephone company would be interested in the Internet. I actually sold that company a couple months later, not even a year later, but I sold it for 1.5 million dollars to a cable company that wanted to buy it to sell alarms to these people. Eventually, they closed that Internet company. You would not believe what happened. They closed it because they thought there were no future in the Internet.
Wow, you serious?
Yeah, totally. So I opened the business. Nine months later, I got approached by that company. I had grown 5000 clients within those nine months, and the business, which is exploding. We just were barely able to keep up with the demand. Then this alarm company that owned some cable businesses came to us and then asked to buy us and so forth. So, eventually, we did the transaction, sold the company, and then I moved on to another company. I built a company in the chemical product industry for pools, which I sold roughly a year and seven months later for three million roughly. Then, I kept on going on that track. I was personally introduced to the business world by the insurance companies. I used to work for Prudential of America, and that company showed me a lot. This is where I started to understand the whole picture about business, and then I did very, very well as a salesperson in the first few months of my career in insurance.
Then I was pushed by company towards a class that was a mastermind by all the top agents from Prudential in Canada that would sell in Toronto, and at that point, we were put into contact with a guy that was a master of building goal lists, and that’s how he introduced himself. You have to put yourself into context. We were a bunch of young guys, most of us were guys. Maybe out of ten or fifteen participants, maybe one or two were ladies, and everyone else were guys. Then we have this guy that shows up with a super suit, tailor-made. He’s so confident, and we’re all impressed by his presence and how strong he looks in front of us. He looked at us and said, “Out of all that room, there’s going to be maybe one or two who are going to go and have a career in that business and go somewhere, and who says it’s going to be you?” Then we’re all waiting. “What is he going to say?” Then, eventually, he tells us, “By tonight, when midnight arrives, then one of you might have draw his and write down his goal list, and if he does it correctly, there is a slight chance he will get that goal list done.”
So that’s how I heard about that goal list thing. I had never thought about even having a goal list. So he put it into something that was very structured. You have to write three short-term, three longer-term, and then four very long-term goals, and you have to describe them. So there’s no goal-writing like, “I want to buy a car” or “I want a car.” You have to write, “I want a black Camaro. It’s going to be a 2017. I’m going to pay $57,000 for that car. I’ll buy it at that distributor or that car dealership, and I’ll go with my girlfriend, and I’ll probably take her for a lunch at whatever restaurant afterwards.” He really took us in the system of making a story out of each goal.
This goal was super specific.
It wasn’t a fluffy goal. So I want our listeners to understand this. What Steve’s talking about here is a bucket list of some of the things you wanted to achieve maybe three years, five years, a super long time out, what have you. But, listen, I want you to hear this. What Steve’s saying, and you’ve heard this from me many times, is be specific about your goals. Because you can say, “I want to get a new car,” but if you’re driving a Pinto today, your new car might be a Honda Civic. If that’s not what you want, then be very specific. Is that what you’re saying?
Absolutely, and it has to be, deep down in yourself, what you truly see. You have to close your eyes and just think about that goal that you really want to reach and make sure you write it down. No computer typing, it has to be done by hand. And, usually, the real people that I teach today, and that’s a program that I promote a lot, and I do a keynote about that: live your life by the bucket list. This is what we call it. And when you’re really in deep into this, you get to a point where that bucket list is part of you, and then you carry it always with you every time. If maybe you cannot have it with you, you’ll have a picture of it in your phone, but you will still carry it with you.
So you carry it, but then do you look at it regularly every day? Is it a routine that you say, “Yeah, I look it every morning. I look at it every evening before I go to bed.” Is there a routine around it as well? What’s the process?
My first list filled an eight-and-a-half by four-and-a-half inch page. It was very small paper, and it was totally destroyed. I still have a picture of it, actually, with all the teacup marks on it and all of this. The corners are all bent and everything. It looks super ugly. I still have a picture of it now.
My first goal was fairly easy because, just to take you back to that story of that mastermind, the guy tells us, “You have to sit down and put your goals into writing. Be very specific. I don’t want to have any excuses. Either you do it or don’t do it or don’t do it right.” That night I was supposed to go party, actually, with the other boys from the convention, and we decided that I would go and I would stay in my room, and I decided that night, also, I’ll do my goals.
So my first goal was fairly easy. It was to buy a Montblanc pen. At that point, I was very early in the business system. Then my second goal was to buy a watch and then buy a motorcycle, pay for my lease, for my car and so forth. My ninth goal was to retire before age 50. My tenth goal was to retire on a sailboat. That was something that I was passionate about when I was young. I went to some summer camp, and I was passionate about sailboats, so I wanted to retire and probably take retirement on a sailboat.
Wait a minute. So I know you well enough, and you’re 45 now, but that stuff’s already happened.
So, yes, you’ve got the sailboat, you’ve traveled around the world, you’ve done some amazing things with your beautiful wife, Chantal. What accelerated those goals for you? Because I know that you’re not 50 yet and you’ve achieved that goal.
I know that money wasn’t really an issue for you by 30. You had achieved so many goals. So I want you to really dig into that and tell me what got you there quicker. Because I want listeners to realize, Steve’s done something. He’s not better than anyone else. Because he’s French doesn’t mean he gets there quicker than anyone else. It doesn’t matter what your color of your skin is, what your nationality is. What got you there quicker? What do you believe got you to these goals a lot quicker? Because, by 30, you didn’t have to think about things. You were financially set. In fact, I remember chatting with you, and you said, by 36, you were bored out of your skull because you were retired.
My first requirement was over at 36, actually. So, basically, I began the bucket list thing, I was 22 or 23 maybe, and then I just started knocking these goals. The first one was a $450 pen, and that came three weeks after I wrote that down. It’s like going to, with your shopping cart, do your grocery shopping because you have some spaghetti sauce to buy and you know you need the meat, you need the tomato juice and so forth. So everything you need, you pick up, and you knock it off the list, and that’s how I saw things. And, nowadays, I can tell you, I do some work with some clients, and I tell them, “Tonight, get a piece of paper and a pen,” and sometimes, in the morning after, I’ll ask them, “How have you done?” “Oh, I couldn’t find a paper,” “I couldn’t find a pen,” or “I couldn’t find the time.”
They’re full of excuses.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. A boatload of excuses.
And I know you hate excuses. You’re the non-excuse guy, cut through the BS, do what you need to get done, am I right?
Totally. I cannot stand for people who do not do what they said they would do.
So, listeners, I want you to listen to this because you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, this guy’s achieved stuff.” Yes, because he took action. He pretty much put his pen to paper to get what he needed to do, and there wasn’t any excuse. “I was tired.” He could’ve gone out with buddies to the bar that night or whatever at the convention, or wherever they went, maybe out for dinner, whatever they’re going to go do. But he took the time to go, “Screw it. I want to be different to them. I want to be ahead. I’m going to be retired by 30. I’m not screwing around, wondering where my life’s going to be by the time I’m 30 because I want to go out in the evening with my friends.”
What it really takes, what it tells me about you and who you are, you are not easily led by other people. You’re not led astray. You have your goals set, and you want to fricking achieve them. Listeners, I want you to hear this. Steve is one of those driven individuals that will get what he wants, and he won’t be taken off-course for other people. So can you talk to them a little bit about who you are and the kind of people that are in your life right now? Do you have people in your life right now that tend to take you off-course or they’re holding you to a higher place in where you want to be?
If you let me go through this system of the goal list, then, eventually, I was able to clear my house, buy a motorcycle. Things were just happening so quickly. I was reverse-engineering everything, and I was like, “I need the house, I need the retirement before 50,” and I was doing some math and things were happening so quickly that I couldn’t even believe it, that writing down those things would make them happen so quickly. I had only one thing in my mind, that it was like, “This guy with his suit and his attitude, man, he was right. Just do it. Just write it down and start with the first one, and then you’ll go and knock out one after the other.”
That’s exactly what I did, and at some point, I reached a point where at 30 years old, I was ready to retire and I had a couple million packed in the bank account. Then the only goal left was to go sailing around the world on a sailboat. You know the difference between a monohull, a catamaran, and a trimaran? So monohull has one hull, and a catamaran has two, and a trimaran has three. I wanted to have that. That was the thing I really wanted was a trimaran, so I shopped around the world to find trimarans. I couldn’t find one, so, eventually, I decided to build it. So I hired a full crew, and I hired a naval engineer, and I did some drawing with him, and, eventually, he would build the plan, and then we started building the boat. We took three and half years to build it.
Wait, so let me ask something. You’ve never built a boat in your life before?
You never studied how to build a boat?
Not even repairing a canoe.
Wow, and so now you’re building a trimaran.
Yeah. It’s 65 feet long by 60 feet wide, so it’s as big as a tennis court. It would weigh 17 tons. I did that without prior experience, but I did teach myself. Because as soon as I was ready to retire and I said, “Yeah, I want to go around the world with a trimaran,” I realized that I couldn’t get it as easy as I wanted. So I said, “I’ll have to work hard,” and then I began a second goal list at that point.
So a second bucket list? Okay.
Goal list, bucket list, whatever, but really detailed. Listen again, listeners, this is not he wrote down a few goals to achieve. He wrote down detailed goals of what he wanted to achieve. So keep on going. Sorry.
The first list was 10 goals because the guy told us to do ten. I said, “Well, I have my independence. I’ll do my own stuff now.” So I decided to put it up, a 22-goal list, and then I went through that one within less than seven years, actually. I’m working on a 33-goal list right now. I’m eight goals shy of the 33, basically.
So you would say, for people listening, is get the goal list done. Don’t think how you’re going to achieve it.
Write it down first, what you want to achieve, whatever it is. I went for a walk on the beach today, which was really cool and I really enjoyed that, and you’re talking about these five homes that you want to have. I think it was five in different places in the world.
So four homes around the world in very strategic places, built very differently. Some crazy fricking goals, like 2.8 million dollars per home that you want to build, and that’s without any furnishings, no fancies, no nothing.
So I want our listeners to realize, this is not talking about, “Oh, Steve’s some rockstar.” No. What Steve’s done is he’s gone out, put his goal list together, and it was very detailed. Because when you put your goals out there, and you reverse engineer them, and, in fact, you say, “I want to achieve this. I want to buy my five million dollar home in a year’s time,” well, you need to know what to do like, “I need a two-million dollar deposit, I’m going to pay it cash,” or “I’m going to get five million bucks in the bank in the next 12 months.” You’ve got to reverse engineer that to what are you doing today? Are you going out for dinner with your buddies and chit-chatting about stuff that’s never going to get you there, or are you doing something right now today to get you to that goal? Am I right with that?
So that’s the way you and your beautiful wife think.
Yeah, yeah, we live by those goals lists. Now, the goal lists that I create are much more detailed. I cannot fit them on a single piece of paper now. I use books with a lot of pages. Some of the goals take at least one page up, and I write them as a story. The most important factor, and this is really important for your listeners to understand, you have to put not an exact date, but a before date. So before the end of 2019, I need that house, car, boat, whatever that you really want to acquire. It can be much different things. You can decide to have all your cavities restored in your mouth if you’re having a problem with your teeth. It’s an endless possibility, but just put a date. Before that date, it has to be done.
This is always the way I did it, and this is always the way I knock each of them out of the goal list one after the other. I can tell you, it is the way, also, that you can work on a day-to-day basis. For people that are in the sales industry, sometimes every morning is a new morning. You get out of your comfort zone again, and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m starting at zero again this morning.” If you’re talking about real estate agent, insurance agent, life insurance agent, these type of jobs, every Monday morning is like they start the counter at zero. But don’t get discouraged by that, and just keep on going, and it will happen. Just put those before dates, and you will get there. It’s the secret.
Let me ask this, though, Steve. I love this discussion because it’s a great discussion. Listeners, you have to understand, we have some really good fun, myself and Steve, together.
Of course we challenge each other a lot on different things around how things work. So I’m going to go to something that might be interesting for you.
Okay. So you write these things down, so they come from your head. I want to write this, write this, write this. I want to achieve. I want to buy my whatever it is. We’re talking about cars today, but let’s say whatever car you want to buy, and you write down all the details: what color, what price, all that kind of stuff, what dealership. But the key thing is you’re already putting it out there as if you’ve already achieved it, so you don’t even think it. Actually, you feel like you’ve achieved it. Am I correct with that?
Yeah, yeah, and it literally is a story that you tell yourself, basically.
But it’s a story that you embody.
And when you embody it, that’s when it shows up.
So I want you to hear that, listeners. It’s not just about writing down specific goals and thinking about them. It’s how do you feel about those goals? I love one thing, and I know it happened in my life maybe two years ago, is that over the last two years or so, I released 40 pounds. That 40 pounds, I felt myself on the stage 40 pounds lighter. I thought about the goal, I wrote it down, and I said, “Within the next two years, I’m going to release these 40 pounds,” and I felt people walking up to me saying to me, “Colin, what happened to you? Are you sick? Have you got some kind of illness?” Because they’d seen the weight release. But I had felt that weight release. I felt the end goal. So is that how it works for you as well? As you write this down, you write this story down, do you start to really get in touch with that story?
And that end goal?
That comes into a second phase where I sit down with my wife and I would say, “All right, let’s dream build together.” We do take a bit of time together every so often to just strategize about our dreams. I’m super strategic about dreams. It’s not like I’m waiting for someone else to come and fill up my dreams. It’s a strategy.
You’re in control.
Yeah. If you don’t write them down, it’s like picking up your car and saying, “I’m going somewhere,” and I might be sitting next to you and say, “Where?” and you’ll say, “I don’t know. Just I’ll drive forward to some extent.” If you don’t have that goal list, it’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re not going anywhere. So when you do have the goal list, then you start working on it, and then you keep it with you all the time, and then you strategize. You sit down with your wife and you’re like, “Hey, honey, listen, about the goal list, we have this, this, this done. How about we dream again? Let’s dream again where we’re going.”
That’s something that we’ve been doing in the last maybe two, three years a lot more clearly than we ever did before. We’re telling ourselves the story of our life five years from now. We’re going to be traveling always business class or first class to go from here to there, and we’ll spend maybe four to five months per year on vacation. We’ll go to our houses, or we’ll go on our sailboat and so forth. And the sailboat’s going to be called this, it’s going to be that color. We put all the details into it, and we make it extremely clear as to what we’re going to take and do and how much we’re going to spend and how happy we’re going to be, as well.
This is also about being happy. If you do this just for the sole purpose of bringing money into your equation and fill your pocket bigger, it’s just not going to make you happy. In our goals, being happy is one of the goal as well. So we do reflect, together, as to what situation makes us happy. How do we feel about this and that? Do we want to visit some countries where there are problems or not or we want to be safe? This is something we want, to be happy on a regular basis, that it’s something that after you’ve been thriving in business, you really owe it to yourselves to find a nice place where you’re going to be happy. If it can be 365 days a year, that’s the bare minimum.
I agree, man. I agree.
Am I right?
Steve, we’re going to be coming towards the end here, which is really awesome and, sincerely, thank you. One thing I want you to hear here, listeners. You might be sitting going, “Yeah, this guy is so successful. This guy has got everything made for him and everything else.” Yes, he has. But guess what? He took the action. He did his first goal list. Once he got those goals done, did the second goal list. He’s gone larger, 33 goals, really well-written down goals, probably 33 pages minimum of stuff he’s written down. But here’s the thing. You might be thinking, “Yeah, but he’s talking about five homes and crazy stuff around the world.” Remember, it all started with a pen. His first goal was to get that Montblanc, whatever, pen.
Montblanc pen, yeah.
A $450 pen. You might think, wow, that’s even out of your reach right now. Well, then, start with something really small. Maybe start with, “I’m going to the grocery store.” Instead of buying no-name brand products, you start to buy organic products.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter where you start. You have to start somewhere. Are you with me on that, Steve?
Oh, absolutely. To your listeners, understand this. I started from the lowest class in Quebec. I was not good at school. I quit school before college. I had to build myself from pretty much zero. I had no support from my parents. I had to go and build my life by myself. So if anybody here is like, “Yeah, he was lucky,” or whatever, you can try me on that any time you like but you will not get me. I was not fortunate to have parents that would pay for everything for me. I was not fortunate to have people to pay for everything for me. So I did have to build everything and build myself to go to that point. There is no slacking. If you’re into it, you put everything you have and, especially, you know where you’re going. If you have that goal list, you will know where you’re going.
It seems like an overdue trick, but in the end, with my company, Leaders Factory, we end up with a few hundred clients a year, coaching with them, and in the end, these people, most of them don’t have dreams. They don’t have end goals either. You talk with them about goals and even goals for the company, and they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, it’s on the program. We should do that sometime soon this year.” You go crazy. You’re like, “Come on, man, how can you run a company without a goal or even goal list for your own company?” So this is really where it kicks in. You do the work, take that piece of paper. What Colin is saying is just grab the paper and start. Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, that list is going to be on the corner of that table. It will be there. It will be, really, something that’s real that you can hold in your hand and that you can talk about with other people. As much as you’re going to be talking about, the more that road is going to be unfolding in your head. “Oh, yeah, to achieve that number six goal, I can do this.”
And on this, I have to say that some goals are not attainable. I mentioned that to you, Colin, a bit earlier, and I want your listeners to understand that. I had a goal that was my number seven goal that was to buy a Lamborghini Diablo at that time and, for some reason, which is that I’m six foot four, when I came to that I was fortunate enough to buy that Lamborghini, I just couldn’t fit in the car.
But the goal’s still achievable. It was just maybe sometimes you’ve got to go do your homework first to realize you couldn’t fit in it.
You still had the cash there, but you then bought another vehicle.
Yeah, I ended up in a Mercedes, which I was very happy with. But don’t research and write the goal after. Write the goal first. They come from your imagination, from everything that you believe, everything that you are from the inside. Write the goal first and research afterwards if it’s doable.
So what you’re saying, write down what you want, don’t think how you’re going to get it right now.
Don’t think about the how because when you think about the how, you could screw the whole damn thing up.
Exactly, and it’s going to look like a mountain basically. Just so it’s clear, those 10 goals on the first list, I strongly recommend people just to start with those 10, and if it seems too much work for now, just start with five and you can write a second list once those five are done. But if you go for a 10-goal process, three short-term, three mid-term, and three long-term. This is really how I learned to do it, and now I think it’s the best thing because long-term, you’ll take something that’s three years and over, to get at retirement basically. Then, shorter term, you will take zero to six month, eight months, and then from eight months to three years roughly in the mid-term.
So this is really how I’ve built mine. It’s allowed me to build businesses and sell them, so many things, and it opens so many doors.
Just for example, you can put on your goal list that you want to meet certain type of people. You want to meet celebrities maybe and reach these people. Maybe you want to be happy. It doesn’t have to be material things. Sometimes, these are easier to get because once you write them down and if you know, “Yeah, I want to spend two hours with my wife every day,” this is a simple goal to reach.
And once you declare that, if you’re a real person…
You have to declare them. Do you share them with anyone else, as well, in your life?
So it’s declare and share?
Here is my trick, though. I have personal goals that sit in my book that I don’t show people, and I have those goals that are public ones, and all of my staff, all my coaches, or the people that work with me on a very regular basis, know my goals. I share them with them very often, I would say, “Hey, we’re about to reach that one,” and so forth, and they’re happy helping to contribute. I do exactly the same with them. Everyone that works for us, they have their goal list. This is one of the mandatory things that they have to deal with before they even start working with us. If they show up on their first day, they don’t have a goal list, they have an off-day that day and, happily, it was their last day.
Oh, man. I know we need to sign off here in a minute.
Steve, what a pleasure, man. I know that Steve’s company Leaders Factory, of course, based in Montreal. Steve, if people want to get hold of you and learn more about what you do or maybe just give you a little message or something like that, what’s the easy way? Is it go to your website, is it email address, what’s the best way to connect with you?
Just go on Facebook, Steve Long. Just type Steve Long, coach, or Steve Long/LF, for Leaders Factory, and you’ll find us. Just type “Steve Long Leaders Factory” or “Steve Long coach” on YouTube, and you’ll find a lot of our content over there. We have some free advice for everyone to learn about. If that can be of any help, just don’t hesitate, and I’ll be more than happy to help.
Yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s great tools there. And just for everyone listening, just to make sure that everyone gets it really clear, even with my crazy South African accent, that’s Steve Long Leaders Factory, so that you really get that clear when you’re going on Facebook, and Steve would love to connect with you there. You can see some great tools, things that can help you. This is just a little tip of the iceberg of what Steve does. So, Steve, I cannot thank you enough for being here today and sharing your brilliance, sharing just some of the things, I think the most important thing in life. If you haven’t got a destination, how the frick are you going to get there?
Yeah, that’s the basic. If you don’t start by that, just don’t complain later on that it didn’t work.
You can’t complain later on about you didn’t get there because you didn’t know where you were fricking going.
Exactly, exactly. There’s no way you’ll get there without that, and I’ve seen that. I’ve been in the coaching and business industry for ages now. Almost twenty years, I’ve been doing this, and I’ve seen so many people saying, “Yeah, I’ll do it,” and they never did, and they never did anything.
I agree, man. Wow.
So just do that.
Just fricking do it. So when you hear this podcast and you are done with this today … you know this is the way I do everything, of course. It’s MYM Your Business: The Brutal Truth with Colin Sprake. When you press stop to this or whatever, I don’t care if you’re on the side of the highway stopped in your car, if you’re in a plane listening to this recording, if you’re jogging, you’ve got a notepad in your pocket, you stop, sit down on a bench, do whatever you need to do, and start writing out your goals.
Now. Don’t wait till tomorrow morning. You want to wait for the rest of your life to pass by? I am very blunt about this because people always put things off. How many times have you put things off waiting for things to happen? “I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it next week.” My worst word I hate is “when.” “When I stop running, I’ll start writing them down.” “When I get home, I’ll write them down.” “When I listen to this again” Please, get rid of that word “when” and just get the stuff done immediately. This has been an incredible episode. Thank you so much to share your time with me, Steve.
Thank you, Colin. Thank you.
Ways to contact Steve: