This interview with Matt Maxwell, founder of Hearthstone Coaching & Consulting, is part of my 2021 Autumn Adventure Tour‘s Entrepreneur Interview Series. This trip promotes small businesses along the East Coast, shares interviews with my past and current clients, and highlights my upcoming business mastermind.

Transcript:

SPEAKERS

Matt Maxwell, Megan Taylor Morrison

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Hello everyone, and welcome to my entrepreneur interview series, a part of my 2021 Autumn Adventure Tour. I’m here today with the wonderful Matt Maxwell, a longtime client, friend, and now collaborator on some very exciting things. Hello, Matt. I’m excited to interview you today. 

Matt Maxwell 

Hi, thanks. 

Megan Taylor Morrison 

Yeah. Just to give you a little bit about Matt, he is an author who has written a life-changing book. And I’m not just saying that. People literally leave reviews that talk about how it changed their lives. He is a wonderful coach. He is an actor. He is just a very talented human all around. Matt, what else do you want folks to know about you?

Matt Maxwell  

Yes, probably also in terms of my mix, I do leadership training workshops for organizations, and I think that covers it. Awesome.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Cool. 

Matt Maxwell

I used to be a lawyer. Did you say I used to be a lawyer? 

Megan Taylor Morrison

No. He aced the LSAT! Just saying.

Matt Maxwell  

Yeah, I sometimes teach LSAT classes too. Yeah, I think that’s an important part of my journey. I used to work in big law. And so entrepreneurship was terrifying for many reasons. And one of them was like, I left something quite cushy, but that I didn’t find particularly fulfilling.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Yeah. And one of my favorite memories of you is, you put on one of those big sandwich boards. You’ve seen people wear them. And what did it say Matt? You were standing outside of a law firm, and it said…

Matt Maxwell  

It said,“Lawyers, you don’t have to be miserable anymore.” In New York. I stood outside the largest law firm in New York.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

So you can tell that Matt is an innovative, creative, provocative entrepreneur. Oh, there he is. So good! I’m excited to talk to him about business, we’re going to be dropping some wisdom bombs for entrepreneurs, and also about his experience working with me in a coaching capacity and in the mastermind. Sooo, Matt, let’s start with talking about your business. I’ve got a couple of questions. The first is that being an entrepreneur can create decision fatigue. How do you move forward with your business? Especially when there’s such an array of choices of which avenue to take, who to hire, all of those things?

Matt Maxwell  

Yes. The answer to that is, I don’t know. And neither do you. Neither do you, Megan. Neither do you, person listening. Right. So the trick is, to be okay with not knowing. Right? Is this the best thing? There’s no way to know. There’s no way to know in life or in our businesses what the best thing is. Now, we can learn. We can learn some things that don’t seem to work. We can learn some things that do seem to work. Right, so we can learn. But we’ll never know for sure if that’s the best thing. For me, that’s been really hard as a lawyer where it’s very much like, you know, you got to just do exactly the right thing and avoid risk. And I would say there’s just a wide range of choices. The way that I’ve dealt with that is that there are a few things that I think are important. The Lean Startup helped with this. If you haven’t read The Lean Startup, it’s awesome. I made an intentional choice that what I’m going to be up to in my business is learning what works. So my goal is not to have everything work. My goal is to find out what works. And so then I can experiment. Okay, well, let me try this. And if it doesn’t work, great. I’ve learned that that doesn’t work. You know, experimentation. Being okay with learning. My goal is to learn here. It’s not necessarily to always get it right or have it be perfect. I’ve learned a lot of things that don’t work. And then when it does work, it’s like, “It does work? Awesome.” Which is cool. Another thing that’s important for me is choice in my business. How do I grow? What do I offer? What exactly do I make? There’s just kind of this unlimited array of choices, especially if you’re starting your own business and kind of inventing it. So for this I use the 80/20 rule. If you don’t know the 80/20 principle, look it up. The idea of 80/20 is that 20% of what we do actually generates most of our results. There’s activity, and then there’s these actions that actually seem to generate more of a difference. And so part of what I’m up to is like, what actually doesn’t really create a difference? And what can I do that actually really does? Again, you don’t get to know exactly what that is, right? You practice and try out things. I would say, for me, one of the really satisfying things about having my business is that it’s been a place to listen for inspiration. It’s still kind of a baby. Some of the really magical things that have happened in my business have come from, “I’m going to do this thing based on a feeling.” Sometimes that’s been because somebody has invited me to do something. And I’ve been like,“Yes, that feels right.” An example of that is I was doing this training, and I just felt very present and centered. Towards the end of the day, I was like, “Oh, I’m going to post on LinkedIn, about how miserable lawyers tend to be, and how they could not be so miserable.” I don’t have any social media plan. It probably would be good to have more of a system. I don’t. I just post when I feel like it, and I felt like it. So I wrote this little thing. I found this little article in the Chicago Tribute with a survey about how miserable lawyers are. I just posted, “Lawyers! It’s pretty bad for some of us. It doesn’t have to be.” Whatever. I just posted it because I felt it. And then somebody who I went to law school with saw my post. It turns out she was starting a podcast called Former Lawyer, so she’s like, “Oh, my gosh, Matt would be great on my show.” She invited me to do the podcast, so then I’m on a podcast. Then, six months later, a lawyer reached out to me and said, “Oh, I heard you on this podcast, I’d love to work with you.” Then just last month I was contacted by somebody else whose sister had heard me on the podcast and said, “Hey, this coach might be great for you.” It’s like a magical flow of things that have come from this one moment where I was like, “I’m gonna post about lawyers.” Enjoying and leaning into the flow is a really fun and special part of running my business for me.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

I love that. You are really good at taking inspired action. You’re really good at listening to your intuition. One thing I’ve always loved about watching your work is that when you get an intuition about something, it doesn’t matter what other people’s opinions are, or what they suggest. You’re like,“No, this is how it’s going.” I think about that a lot with your book, which has done incredibly well and even gotten translated into other languages. 

Matt Maxwell  

Yeah, another good example. I was doing a retreat, actually, and I was just like, “I’m gonna write this book.” I spent time on it. It was scary and terrifying with ups and downs. I definitely needed a coach and mastermind, which we’ll talk about later. I needed a lot of support to actually fulfill the feeling that I was meant to write this. Then there was marketing it, and all this other stuff in that journey. But it started with trusting something in me that said, “Go in this direction.” That’s the fun of entrepreneurship. Life can be like, “I followed that thing.” In some ways, it turns out like I hoped and in other ways, I’m completely taken by surprise, right? Sometimes these seeds grow, sometimes they don’t grow at all, and other times they grow in completely unexpected ways. It’s like, “What the heck?” I actually just got the Slovenian version. 

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Oh my God, look at that! It says, “How to Hold a Cockroach” by the way.

Matt Maxwell  

For those who don’t read Slovenian. I self-published my book, started sharing it. People have been loving it. One of the unexpected things for me was that this Slovenian publisher found it and said, “We’d like to publish your book.” Like that’s the kind of thing you could never plan. I did not have a “let me get a Slovenian publisher” plan. But magic things happen if you just kind of follow that flow that you feel and just keep planting seeds.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Let’s transition into talking a bit more about the business mastermind, which you alluded to earlier. What inspired you to join?

Matt Maxwell  

Well, I just really like Megan Morrison. She’s fun, and I like any excuse to spend time with her. And, you know, I recall the conversation we had about it. I was kind of like, “Well, I have this business, which is important to me, but what really matters to me is my book. I need a structure with people who are supportive and will hold me accountable. I really, really, really want to do this. And it is not predictable that I will on my own.” I knew that. Did this have to be the structure through which the book got created? No, but I had to have some kind of structure. For me, I kind of saw that you would be a great stand in the future of me having written this book, and that the group would too.

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Megan Taylor Morrison  

Let the record show, I bought the first book before it was written.

Matt Maxwell  

That’s true. I think I had the first few chapters of this version of the book. I think you paid me a year before I actually published. For a long time, I had this little note that tracked “number of copies sold.” And it just said, “one.” It’s true. You did buy the first copy.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Yeah, I did. What did you accomplish through the experience of the mastermind?

Matt Maxwell  

Well, it was great, because, you know, having a lot of support around the book was my main intention. And also, in the work we did together as a group, like naturally, my business also started to flourish. We learned a lot. I don’t know what kind of format you’re going to have for your upcoming group, but we had great readings that we did together. We learned a lot as a group together. It’s one thing to read a book about whatever business or leadership or whatever on your own. It’s another to be in a group that’s regularly meeting and talking about the topics, because then it becomes part of your language as a group. So you’re really like empowering the stuff you’re learning as a group. And so not only did I finish my book with awesome group support, but also really launched my business. I announced it, kind of took the steps with that awesome sense of support from the group. I really launched my business through that structure.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Hmm. If someone were to be like, “Hey, Matt, what’s it like to be in Meg’s mastermind?” What would you say?

Matt Maxwell  

I mean, it’s hard to predict, because I love the people in our group so much, right? Every group is going to kind of have its own flavor of wonderful people that feel drawn to it. So I’d say it’s unpredictable, because it’s not just me, of course. But you create this nice space where each person becomes so important to the other people in the group. In our group, I deeply love every person in the group. I’m thrilled by their successes, and I know that they’re thrilled by mine, which is pretty unique. I think, in a lot of places, a lot of times it’s like, “oh, cool, good for you” instead. And you’re kind of jealous or whatever. But the space that we created as a group that I trust will be in any group Megan leads is that of genuine excitement and support for each other. So it’s unpredictable, but also predictable in that, with Meg, people will really bond with each other in a way that really supports.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

If someone were to ask you, “Hey, who’s Meg? As a coach? I could hire so many different coaches, but who’s Meg?” What would you say about that?

Matt Maxwell  

Play. Total non-judgment. Like really clearly, no judgment. Just encouragement, play, love, laughter, and appreciation. I really feel like I could bring anything that I feel weird talking about or I am embarrassed by, and it will always be greeted with open arms, laughter, enjoyment, and then “what’s next?” A stand for pushing it forward.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

I love it. I think that everyone listening should follow Matt and his work because it is brilliant. It’s innovative. I don’t even know what you’re doing next. I know we’re gonna have a reunion of the mastermind to read that book, whenever it is ready. If people want to find out more about you and your work, where can they go?

Matt Maxwell  

Read my book. How To Hold a Cockroach: a book for those who are free and don’t know it. It’s beautiful. Well, about 6% of my readers think it’s really stupid. So you might be one of them. But most people seem to really love it. The audio book just came out and it’s beautiful. You can find out more about my coaching at https://www.thisishearthstone.com/. I have a podcast called Cultivating Courage. It’s wonderful. I think it’s beautiful. So if you want some inspiring listens on your drives or whatever, that’s a good place to go.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Thank you so much, Matt.

Matt Maxwell  

Thank you.

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