By Shay Hughes
The words “spiritual billionaire” don’t exactly conjure up thoughts of an entrepreneur or author, and certainly not a former rapper, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our friend, best-selling author and business mogul, Jesse Itzler, is the very definition of a spiritual billionaire. We’ll get into that in a minute, when we explore what he means by “spiritual billionaire” and where his inspiration comes from, but first, a little background on Jesse.
From his earliest days as a rapper with Run DMC, to co-founding Marquis Jet, partnering with ZICO Coconut Water and selling it to Coca-Cola, marrying his incredibly successful wife Sara Blakely (founder of Spanx), and writing two New York Times best-selling books, Living with a SEAL and Living with the Monks, Jesse is about as accomplished as it gets, yet as grounded, authentic and humble as they come. He is constantly aspiring to build his life resume and ultimately striving to be what he has coined a “spiritual billionaire.” The story behind Jesse’s inspiration is truly heartwarming, and we were lucky enough to hear it firsthand during an intimate conversation we hosted for our clients and friends who recently spent an hour with him.
Everyone who has a chance to spend time with Jesse knows he is a world-class storyteller and always has amazing, often funny and incredibly touching experiences to share, drawing on his own life as a father of four, ultra-athlete, husband to a genius businesswoman and serial entrepreneur himself. In his most recent conversation with us, Jesse shared that his quest to be even more spiritual came with the recent passing of his father, as he reflected on the exceptional and spiritual life that his father led. Being a spiritual billionaire like his father is something Jesse aspires to be in his own life, and he shared how he views this as an opportunity for others to do the same.
With hard-working, humble roots, Jesse grew up in Brooklyn, where his father owned a successful plumbing supply business. It wasn’t glamorous work, but his dad provided a stable life for Jesse’s family. Jesse said his father was never a billionaire in financial terms, but his father was the ultimate spiritual billionaire, the only currency that really matters in life. This was profoundly represented to Jesse when he was researching retirement homes for his mother after the passing of his father. The evaluation process didn’t include analysis of bank accounts, connections or social status, but was based on a retirement grading system of wellness, known as “SIPPS”–social, intellectual, physical, purposeful, and as Jesse emphasized, spiritual. Jesse explained the value of being a spiritual billionaire is the ultimate multiplier in life. One can have billions of dollars in the bank, but if they don’t have anything else of value in their life, they ultimately have nothing. In other words, being a financial billionaire multiplied by zero spiritual wealth equals zero. He encouraged everyone to spend more time on the spiritual side of the equation, as that is the true multiplier of life.
Jesse’s father practiced random acts of kindness before they were popularized, by hosting extended family, neighbors and members of the community for holidays when they had no other place to go. This made a lasting impression on Jesse to do more good in the world and recommit to being more of service to the community. Throughout his discussion, Jesse reminded us that the qualities of someone who developed their spiritual side are not skills that are taught, but rather qualities we all can choose to possess–like generosity, passion, empathy, kindness, authenticity, humility, trustworthiness and compassion.
Here are four insightful ways Jesse shared how to be a spiritual billionaire:
1. Put your SOUL into whatever you do.
To Jesse this means that if you are going to do something, you need to do it well, be present, and put your whole soul into it. He encouraged us to be “where our feet are: be focused, intentional, present and give your soul.” He explained you can’t outsource soul, and that if you aren’t going to put your soul into something, be it a presentation, a career, a new hobby, or starting a company, then don’t waste your time, because the winning competition will put soul into it, and you are only being a disservice to yourself. Jesse further explained that there is an energy to how you show up in life, in work, with your family, friends and colleagues, and they can tell when you pour your soul into it.
2. You can master a skill in one year by practicing 18-minutes a day.
Often the things we think are impossible to accomplish are actually very easy to do, and the key to success is learning strategies to help us achieve them. Jesse shared with us the quintessential “Rule of 100,” which explains that if you invest 100-hours in one year in a single discipline, you will be better than 95% of the world’s population. What a concept! His example: if you were to read for 18-minutes a day, as an average reader, you will have read 20 books a year, or could have learned a new language! The key is to be consistent, accountable and take it one step at a time. Imagine what you could accomplish, the person you could become, the experiences you could have, if you gave yourself that time each day.
3. Practice urgency with 25% of the free time in our days.
It’s human nature to have routines and schedules to stay on task and to accomplish what’s needed throughout the day, especially for so many who are parents with children, chauffeuring between work and school, life errands, social activities, sports and homework. For others it might be caring for an elderly parent or a sick family member. We all have commitments, priorities in our everyday life that need to be taken care of, and often we push those unique and extraordinary, life-changing opportunities off to someday.
Jesse explained how he approaches every day with urgency to maximize his time to accomplish what he wants, and broke it down by the numbers: 75% of our time equates to working, eating, sleeping and screentime (for most of us). What are we doing with the other 25% of our time? Jesse expressed that it’s important to have urgency and be particular with that remaining 25% of our time by spending it with the people we love and doing the things we love to do. Further explaining that time is undefeated–the only way to beat time is to take action and when you do so, time can’t take that away from you. So take that trip with your family or put down the phone to do something memorable with your kids, because time can’t take away that experience and the life resume you build.
4. Don’t underestimate the joy of volunteering and giving back.
In those moments where you are overwhelmed or feeling down, the one thing to help stop that feeling is to help someone, and to flip the momentum around by performing an act of service. By volunteering for a local organization, paying the tab at a restaurant for a family, serving meals to those in need, or giving back in any small way, you can instantly feel more uplifted and help make the world a kinder place. The healing power of volunteering and helping others has been studied, and benefits both parties tremendously, and will build your life resume as a spiritual billionaire.
Jason and I have always believed in being of service in the community, and have implemented a volunteer program at Hughes Marino, providing volunteer time off to every team member to help causes that mean the most to them. We support many nonprofit organizations and have made this a high priority as one of our core values is to generously give to others.
In addition to making time for ourselves and our life experiences as a spiritual billionaire, Jesse also reminded us to prioritize our life first, put on our schedule what we want to experience first, and then execute–and most importantly, be mindful and strategic with our precious time, because it’s a scarce resource that should not be wasted.
After listening to Jesse’s incredibly inspiring ideas on how to increase our opportunities to be a spiritual billionaire and positively impact others, we all left feeling more energized and inspired to invest more time in ourselves, those we love and our communities, and seize every opportunity we have to live a generous and fulfilling life. It was a wonderfully reflective message to share with our clients, friends and team, and we hope Jesse’s message inspires you too.
Shay Hughes is president, COO, and owner of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices across the nation. Shay writes about business leadership and company culture on her blog, Lead from Within. Contact Shay at 1-844-662-6635 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.