Focusing On What Brings You Joy with Josh Cantwell – EP 254

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At the end of the day, what really matters to me isn’t the money–it’s whether or not I enjoy what I do. 

When I put my head down on the pillow at the end of the day, I want to be able to say, “Man, I had fun.” Whether I was evaluating deals, going to lunch with a client, recruiting capital, coaching with my kids, working out, that’s what keeps me going. 

In 2022, after sprinting and focusing on lots of things that I didn’t always want to do to grow a great business, my goal is to feel joy. I’ve realized that power and ego don’t matter and will never feel as good as being able to tell my wife that I had fun at the end of the day.

In this episode, my hope is that you’ll take a few moments to think about the things that make you happy so that you can experience joy in every aspect of your life. When it’s all said and done, there’s no point in putting in all those long hours and creating a successful business if you can’t find some time to find some joy in your life along the way. 

Key Takeaways with Josh Cantwell

  • Understanding what matters at the end of the day, or in 50 years.
  • The joy in doing the little stuff that gets projects across the goal line.
  • How to keep your work focused on the parts that give you joy, rather than fighting or sprinting all the time.
  • How to measure your instincts and find your flow state.
  • The value of reflecting on what gives you joy.

Josh Cantwell Tweetables

“If you’re doing things within your wheelhouse that gives you energy, it’s never going to feel like work.” - Josh Cantwell


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Josh Cantwell: Hey, guys, what’s going on? Hey, Josh Cantwell back with another solocast, and actually, you know, what’s really been on my mind lately is joy, that three little letter word, J-O-Y. I actually was working out this morning and I was watching while I was working out. I was watching the Man in the Arena, the special on ESPN+ about Tom Brady, and one thing absolutely just jumped out at me. Here’s a guy that’s won, I think, seven Super Bowls. He’s been in the Super Bowl 11 times. He’s one year younger than me. I’m 45, he’s 44. So, he’s like my age going through the same stuff, raising a family. And the one thing that he said that just totally resonated with me is he said, “Look, 50 years from now, none of this sh*t’s going to matter. Nobody’s going to give a sh*t.” I’ll be in the Hall of Fame. He’ll have a gold bust of his head in the Hall of Fame. And 50 years from now, he’ll probably be dead. He’ll be 94. And there’ll be a new crop of kids and a new group of guys playing football, and nobody’s going to give a sh*t.


So, what really matters is joy. Like what really gives you joy today? So, I was thinking about that. I’ve got this giant mirror in my workout room, my gym in my house. And I have an erasable marker and I have all these quotes and all these sayings all over the mirror. It’s motivating for me. I look up at it when I work out. And I wrote that down, like 50 years from now, nobody’s going to give a sh*t, right? Even my own kids, they’re not going to care. They’re going to be like 60 years old. They’re going to be out with their own lives, will be taking care of me. I’ll be old, and they’ll be feeding me probably. Nobody’s really going to give a sh*t.


So, what really matters is like at the end of the day, when you put your head down on the pillow, like, can you smile and say, “Man, I had fun today?” Like, I had so much joy in what I was doing, whether it was evaluating deals, going to lunch with somebody, recruiting capital, whether it was coaching youth sports, like whether it was working out in the gym, socializing with your friends, going into the fight, the battle of a football game, or buying an asset that you have to renovate, whatever that is that day, what can you do more often that you really enjoy? And so, this has become like a daily fun battle for me. What can I do every day that I know that I love? What can I do that I– like I know I love to work out, I feel so good at 45 years old, so healthy, it matters to me. So, that gives me joy. So, if I start my day in the gym, that helps. It gives me joy, right?


So, like, if I’m leading my team, I don’t need to be involved in the dirt. I don’t need to see the properties that we own, whether the snow is shoveled. We had a huge snowstorm this week, whether the snow is shoveled. A matter of fact, if I have to get involved in that and actually had to get involved in that today with one of our big complexes, 220 units, the snow didn’t get shoveled up to the front doors. The snow plow contractor basically flaked out, didn’t show up. I got to get involved in trying to figure out how to solve that, like that doesn’t give me joy. But it does give me joy to hear about it, know about it, and to solve a problem. Okay, talking to investors and recruiting capital and the commitment, getting a commitment from an investor that says, “Yeah, Josh, I believe in you. I want to invest with you. I want to invest in one of your apartment deals,” that puts a smile on my face. It gives me joy, right?


Like, next week, we’ve got a big leasing about to happen. We got 24 units that are almost done with our CapEx improvements at one of our buildings. We want to have a big leasing event next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s all going to be marketing all week for this leasing event, and we want to try to lease out all of these units at one time. So, I’m going to go on site Monday and I’m going to go on site Thursday, and I’m literally going to be unpacking appliances. I’m going to be shoveling snow. I’m going to put my frickin’ boots on and roll up my sleeves and get dirty with my team because that gives me joy that pays me almost nothing. I could hire somebody for 15 bucks an hour to do all of that, but it gives me joy to get in the fight with my team, to get with Dave and to get with Brian and Matt and Craig and Kenny and our CapEx team, and Moose and Tom and just get in the fight with them and have them know that I’m 100% committed to helping them get these deals across the goal line, right?


So, it’s the little stuff that they’re not doing that we need to do to get them across the goal line. And here, the majority of owner in these deals, me, that makes the most amount of money is going to work for zero that day just to help these guys get in the fight and work together. That gives me joy. I don’t care how much it pays me, it gives me joy. I can come home from that day, I could look at my team. I could look at my wife and know I put in a really good hard day’s work. It gives me joy. Coaching my kids, being around my son. He’s 10 years old and he’s all boy and he’s really good at hoops and he’s kind of big and tall. And it gives me joy to watch him. Like I used to be really involved with my girls’ volleyball, as you know, coaching their club volleyball. I’m not coaching club volleyball right now, so I’d be just pouring my effort and my time into my son. And then I’m going to watch my daughters, just as a parent, instead of coaching. But it gives me joy now to see Dominic growing up and getting better at sports. Two years ago, when he was eight, like I threw him a football, and he couldn’t catch it. He was getting really frustrated. Now, he’s not only the biggest kid in his school for his age, but he’s got really good hands and he’s fast. It gives me joy, right?


I drove out this past week to go see my grandmother. She’s 94. She’s been in great health for 94 years, and now, her body is starting to fail or a little bad. And she could be near the end. She’s ornery. She grew up on a farm. And she’s tough as nails. So, I want to see one of my apartment buildings, on the way to go see my grandmother. I stopped at the cemetery to see my dad. Why? Because it gives me joy and also because I love to be on the phone while I’m driving, I actually can focus really good on my business while I’m in the car, instead of in front of my computer. So, that gives me joy.


So, I think one of the things I’m learning as I’ve matured in business over the last 25 years, I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life, I’ve never had a boss, but I used to be really immature. I used to do things for power, I used to do things for recognition because it made me feel good, my ego, like how do I feel and look in front of other people, right? Nobody gives a sh*t about that now. So, what I’ve learned now is that I’m going to do things within the context of my business that also gives me joy that at the end of the day, I can simply look at myself in the mirror, I can talk to my wife with my head down on the pillow and say, “You know what? That was freaking fun.”


So, that is a big focus of me in 2022 this year is to continue to do that. No, it wasn’t always this way, I’ll tell you, I had to sprint and do a lot of things that I didn’t want to do for a long time because I wanted to grow a great business. And there is something to be said for just muscling through the marathon, just one foot in front of the other, doing things you don’t want to do constantly, just working at it to try to build a great business. But listen, even if you’re in the fight of building your portfolio, even if you’re in the fight of trying to accomplish something new and you have a lot of unknowns, like even when you’re in the fight, the sprint to try to build a big business and you’ve got to work long hours, make sure that you’re looking back and saying that was fun, doing things that are fun. If you’re doing things within your wheelhouse that give you energy, it’s never going to feel like work.


So, I haven’t talked about it for a while, but there’s a profile test that you can take. It’s called Kolbe, K-O-L-B-E dot com, and the Kolbe profile measures your instincts. I’ve taken this test numerous times. I’m what’s known as a quick start. I’m high green. I’m an initiating quick start, which means I like to think, I like to be around people. I’m okay with risk. I took this profile 20 years ago. I retook it about eight years ago, and it was virtually the same score. So, that’s who I am. That’s how I’m built. And that’s what gives me joy is if I work within that profile, if I work within the quick start profile that I know I am, that’s how I’m built, that I know that’s going to give me joy, it’s going to give me energy, and I’m going to have a fulfilling day while accomplishing a lot because work doesn’t feel like work for me. So, I would just encourage you, first of all, go take the Kolbe profile. It’s called the Kolbe Index, K-O-L-B-E dot com. I think it’s like 60 bucks to get your results, totally worth it. I make no money from that. I just think it’s a great tool. Check it out.


And secondly, just a lot of self-reflection around what gives you joy? What gives you happiness? And why bother working, doing something that you hate for 40 years, just a slave at it, to slave at it, to finally turn 67 years old, to finally retire? I can tell you from personal experience that that doesn’t work. Okay, I can even tell you how many of my mom’s friends, other grandmothers, the husbands have all died recently in their early 70s, late 60s, they all work, work, work, work, work, work for the hope of retiring, for the hope that they would start to have some fun, and they’re gone, including my own father. It doesn’t work. So, why not go create something on your own now? Why not get in the fight now? Why not start a business now? Why not start investing in real estate now? Why not start recruiting capital now? Why not build a portfolio now that creates passive income that you could ultimately really, really enjoy the sh*t that you want to do?


So, I would say, listen, here’s your homework. Write this down. Grab a piece of paper, grab a pen. Go somewhere quiet for an hour and just brainstorm and write down all the stuff that you’ve done in the last week, month, year, five years that’s made you smile, that’s made you happy, that’s given you joy. Write it all down and schedule it in. Take a look at those things that have given you joy, that make you happy, go find your calendar and schedule it in. You can control your own time, you can control your own calendar. And if you don’t control it, the world will control it for you. Okay, go do that now. Write it down and schedule it in, and then you’re going to find yourself like, wow, I found extra time to go meet with this one friend of mine that makes me laugh, or go to the gym and workout or go fly fishing or go four-wheeling, and whatever you like to do, schedule it in. Find time for that. Find some more time for some joy in your life. That’s my message to you today.

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