Jesse Paul Smith is a speaker, entertainer, and coach that helps high achievers take dreams and goals into results. He is also the founder of My Creative District and WorldWide Dance Challenge. These are projects that he used as tools to provide opportunities to creatives across the world whom he sees to have the potential to be a game-changer in the entertainment industry.
In this episode, Jesse talks about the importance of focusing on the reward instead of the cost, and how self-education gives you the flexibility to be who you want to be. Lastly, he also shares about the three important questions you should ask yourself to succeed: 1) Who do you want to have an impact on? 2) How can you have an impact on these people? and 3) What are the next steps you can take to get a win? Check it out!
The Mastermind Effect: 02:11
Just real quick, we’re going to name-drop a little bit to get their attention. You’ve danced with some of the most amazing performers and artists in the world. Would you mind sharing a couple of the names that you have worked around? What do you do when it comes to coaching or dancing? Everything is just amazing.
Jesse Paul Smith: 02:31
I’ve had the awesome privilege of doing some work with Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, and Channing Tatum, to name a few. I have performed on four different continents in front of over 100,000 people in my career. So I’ve been blessed.
Jesse’s Learning Journey and Masterminds
The Mastermind Effect: 02:50
I think that gets some people’s attention right there when they hear that. Jesse holds his own when it comes to those amazing artists and foremost because he’s an amazing artist, performer, coach, and so much more that we’re going to learn about today.
Let’s dive into this. When you and I were younger, our ability to learn had changed over the last 5 to 10 years. When we were younger, they used to be teachers, textbooks, family, friends, co-workers, and people around us, but that’s a sliver of what’s possible. How is your learning changed from your earlier verses today?
Jesse Paul Smith: 03:29
My dad worked for Park maintenance forestry in the city of Duluth, where I grew up, and my mom was a CAN. My dad told me, and my mom encouraged me to go to school, go to college, and do that whole nine yards because that was the thing to do. My dad wanted me to have more opportunities since he never went to college. My mom was an LPN when they had those back in the days, and so she would always encourage me to go to college because that was the route to go to have a successful career. The only way to learn was through studying textbooks. I also grew up in a Christian-focused household, and my grandfather was in ministry. He held a doctorate in theology and was always studying the Bible. So I learned a lot from studying with him. That was the way that I learned how early on to study was through books.
If I were going to learn through experience, it would be kind of learn on my own. I always had these dreams to do big things like getting a record deal, go to Hollywood, and performing on a big scale. Because of where I grew up, nobody in where I was from lived that lifestyle and had any aspirations to that kind of stuff. And so, I didn’t learn the value of mentorship. It wasn’t even until I went out to California. I bailed as a dancer, came back, had a bad record deal, and failed again. At my low point, I started to believe that I wasn’t meant to do them because the things I was doing weren’t working. I didn’t have the mindset to be able to overcome failure. As Tony Robbins talked about, I would assign really bad meanings to things.
When I was introduced to personal growth and development and read Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins, I started to learn the value of mentorship. I got my first mentor, who ended up being a friend of mine. We had kind of parted ways over the years and came back together. When I started to learn the value of mentorship, I went from $170,000 in debt, broke, facing bankruptcy, really at a low point mentally and emotionally, to being debt-free, innovating industry, and loving life again in a matter of nine months. It is not because I learned sales techniques from a textbook, but because I spent time with somebody that poured into me and taught me through experience, and time and repetition. That changed my life forever.
The Mastermind Effect: 06:55
One of the things that stood out to me that you were saying is that you didn’t have anyone who had those aspirations in your town. I’m wondering, at the same point, did you have anyone that even could show you a roadmap in your hometown growing up? And that’s the biggest thing, why? Masterminds, coaching mentorship, have pre-recorded or already have the roadmap. They’re living it, they’ve lived it, whatever it is, and they can pass that along. If you don’t have those kinds of people around you, it’s really difficult to change your current position or trajectory.
Jesse Paul Smith: 07:33
I don’t know if it’s so much that I didn’t have people in my area that knew a roadmap; I was not introduced to the thought process of finding somebody that did. I think that’s the big thing now is people realizing that they need mentorship. When I was growing up, mentorship is like if you were a troubled kid, you needed mentors to help them turn their life around. It wasn’t so much to find somebody who was successful because you wanted to be successful, or you already wanted to find somebody killing it in business or better than you. It was always this negative connotation. That’s been the big thing for me to realize that just because I have a mentor or a coach doesn’t mean I’m broken.
The Mastermind Effect: 09:02
That’s so true. It’s in our DNA. Our DNA sits there and says, “This is what fits in this box, and this is how you’re supposed to do it.” When you start living out, you don’t have to live outside the box. You just live in a world without a box. You empty out your cup, and you start surrounding yourself with the right people in the right order, and those mentors and coaches appear. The opportunities start knocking.
Speaking in ways that we learn, there are more ways to learn than ever, and it can be a little confusing. Some people use an accountability buddy, a mastermind, an online course, and lots of ways to learn out there. Who are you currently learning from, and more importantly, how did you find them?
Jesse Paul Smith: 09:55
I’m blessed to be a part of the John Maxwell Team. My friend and I were growing at the time, and we started diving into this personal growth and development stuff. Before I started doing that, I heard of John Maxwell but didn’t know much about him. But in 2016, I learned about this coaching program that he had available. I joined that, and I dove headfirst into that.
One of the big things people do when they start getting into this world is looking at how much programs cost or the cheapest option. I’d spent a lot of money to get there. I’d already spent ten grand to get there with the trip and the program and everything. And then they were upselling me to this new mentorship program. I remember walking around and asking these people who had upgraded to that program if it was worth it. I kept mentioning the cost. Then, Paul Gustafson, a great friend of mine, says, “If you always focus on the cost, you’ll lose out on the reward.” That hit me when it came to investing in the program that was right for me. Since then, I’ve been an active participant in all of their programs. They have two conferences a year that I go to, coincidentally, because I invested in that program. It’s also the very same place that gives me permission to get back into the industry that I was so passionate about and lean into my authenticity. To become the healthy version of myself, I desperately needed permission because I was around the right types of people.
I’ve had the privilege of learning from him. I’ve had the privilege of learning from people in that team. When it comes to podcasting, you and I both have a friend that we learn from, Travis. I’ve learned valuable stuff from him. I’m finding that I’m learning from as many people as I can get to. I’ve had the benefit of interviewing people for my podcast, much like you’re doing. I’ve had some amazing guests on there—Michael Coles, former CEO of Caribou Coffee and founder of Great American Cookie company. I have this awesome opportunity to sit down and learn from these guys.
I’m learning about the entertainment business from one of the best Lady Gaga’s choreographers, Richie Jackson. I spent a lot of time getting familiar with the ins and outs of the entertainment company. I’m learning as much as I can because, just like you, I found that if you want results, or learn something, learn about an industry, learn a craft, get close to the ones that are crushing it, and just model what they do.
The Mastermind Effect: 13:37
Someone’s probably already done it; why try to recreate the wheel. I know there’s ingenuity, there’s creativity. Things do come, but it usually is spurred from learning from other people’s mistakes, shortcomings, or just from their successes. Watching them and taking how it pertains to you. Taking it out, plugin, and playing it in your own Rubik’s cube to where it makes sense. A couple of things you mentioned in there is they gave you permission to go back to what you love.
A lot of the time, we get stuck in our own heads. We can’t see the picture through the frame. We can’t see the tree through the forests. We’re still going through some form of a pandemic. But to me, it’s causing a reset and how we can accomplish things. How has masterminds and coaching helps you when you’re looking to get unstuck and give yourself permission to move forward?
Jesse Paul Smith: 14:41
You can learn a lot from the program, but you also learn a lot from the people. When it comes to mastermind groups, I have found that the most valuable thing is the content and the people that gather around that content. They can make just as big of an impact on you. That happened to me. We were a part of a mastermind program when I met my now business partner, Zack Knight. I was really in a weird spot. We all go through peaks and valleys. We all go through these times where we have a breakthrough. And then we all have these times where we’re completely stuck.
For me, I had gone through a couple of peaks and valleys. I scaled this company from a franchise that was failing for $476,000, and we crushed it and 10x the revenue to $4.4 million. In four years, we developed a sales process helping people triple their close rates without using any of these hard closing techniques. We were doing a lot of great things. But in that journey, I realized and was reintroduced to the fact that I had a really good strong skill set in sales. I was good at leading teams, and I was good at building teams. But you have to remember that for you to live a fulfilled life is that you can’t just lean on what you’re good at; you also have to find what you’re passionate about. Ken Coleman talks about this in his talk to Liberty University students, and he calls it the sweet spot where people are looking for their calling or where they belong in life. You can find it where your strengths and your passions intersect. What am I really good at? And what am I passionate about? How do they combine? Not only were you, as a contributor to life are supposed to hang out, but you can generally find your audience that is meant to be impacted by your message.
I was living on my strengths to the point where if you lean too much on your strengths, you can be really good at something and be miserable. I was good at training sales, but because I was only looking at it through the lens of what I was good at, I was trying to connect with people I didn’t necessarily connect with. And it was burning me out. I was making good money and doing a lot of cool things, but suddenly, I started seeing my revenue go down. I started to see my excitement for life go down to where I started to get familiar with this feeling of depression that I had when I had my bad record deal. So I go to this mastermind, connect with all these people, listen to the content, and leave frustrated. I was mad because I didn’t get anything. I didn’t get my breakthrough moment. And I’m sitting here going this mastermind was a waste of money, and I shouldn’t have done.
You have to realize that sometimes the value that you’re going to get from an event, a mastermind, course, or a retreat might not come at the moment. It might come as a byproduct of that moment. Mine happened a month and a half after the moment. All I did was I made a decision that I was going to stop chasing money and stop doing what I was good at. I was going to give myself permission again to lean into who I was and serve the audience that I had all these limiting beliefs around. All I did was give one phone call to somebody in a mastermind program that was taught to think differently, think outside of the box, and look at life outside of the norm. And from that came an idea that changed the trajectory of my business and my entire life. It was out of the fact that I invested in a mastermind program and got me around the right type of people.
Self-Education and Jesse’s Experience
The Mastermind Effect: 19:21
I’ve got so many stories behind that one where I’ve had that moment in the mastermind, and then I’ve had the moments after. It’s because of the people that are in it. There are different ways, and it’s sometimes it sneaks up on you. You just don’t know what to expect, but the people are absolutely critical out of the mastermind. It truly is amazing. When you go from a scarcity mindset of how much this will cost me to an abundant mindset of the return on my investment when I invest in myself? It’s a big difference, a big shift.
Speaking of masterminds, they’ve been around for a long time. The first one was the apostles. And then Benjamin Franklin creates the Judo Club or the Leather Apron Club. And then there’s Napoleon Hill, who kind of rounds it out in the book and solidifies what a mastermind is. As self-education continues to see this huge boom, where do you see the parallels between standard education and self-education moving forward?
Jesse Paul Smith: 20:50
That’s a great question. The advantage of self-education is its flexibility. It gives people a chance to find a way to educate themselves the way they need to be educated. Not everybody is a textbook person. Not everybody’s a test taker type of person. Self-education gives you the ability to study things relevant to what you want to do long term. Again, I’m not arguing our education system doesn’t have value. To have somebody spend 12 years of their life studying Science or English, and they have very little to no interest in it. But they want to dive deep into building websites. They might be somebody that the science world uses to build an innovative website. Give them the ability to go down the path that they are starting to align with. Self-education will force our education system to be a little more flexible in its offerings and how it helps students choose what they will learn about.
The Mastermind Effect: 22:23
They’re going to have to rethink this. The education system is still the same one that’s been around, and that was created for some pretty big families to create the worker bees. We haven’t changed that system. Self-education allows you to grow into who you want to be. Standard education has a place, and there’s a purpose for it. If you’re going to be a doctor, nurse, or engineer, I want you to have that piece of paper. But in a lot of other areas, we can fast-track it. That’s just our opinion on that one.
Typically, when someone invests in the future, they have a better than a vague idea of the outcome. What should people expect when they enter Jessie’s reality and work with you through your coaching and masterminds?
Jesse Paul Smith: 23:25
A big part of what I have learned from masterminds and coaching programs is that a lot of our issues aren’t necessarily the skill sets as much as it is the mindset. It’s the limiting beliefs that we have surrounding, a vision that we have, what we’re capable of, limiting us, or keeping us from actually experiencing our vision or goal. From going through all of the things that I’ve gone through, I’ve realized that in the entertainment business, there’s a very archaic model that it’s much like our education system that has been built on these. When I say entertainment business, I’m talking about people who want to be producers, singers, dancers, or actors. The model of you that need these certain people, like your talent agents, booking agents, and all these kinds of people to “make it.”. But really, when we have the vision to do something like performing on stage, we have that vision because we also have a feeling that we’re trying to obtain through that vision. More often than not, we have this vision because our lens is used to seeing. So we automatically then attribute to “if I want to have this happen, it’s got to look like this.”
I’ve learned over the years that there are a bunch of ways to accomplish living out your passion that don’t require you to go the traditional route of going to auditions, getting a talent agent, or hopefully being the one out of 500 people that show up that audition that is going to get chosen. Like everybody’s trying to go through the front door, I show people how to get in through the back door because every front door has a backdoor. I have learned that you’ve been given passions and skillsets and that you can find how those two intersect actually to do what you want to do. It might not look anything like you thought, but I’ll guarantee you that it’ll make you feel the way you expected it to feel. It’ll still be able to make you give you the lifestyle you want to live. It’ll still be able to give you the option to work with the people that you dreamed of working with. It will give you more flexibility than you ever could have imagined. And you still be able to make the impact that you want to make. You don’t have to rely on somebody else helping you get that big break moment; you can go out and create your own.
What we do inside of our coaching program and in our mastermind program is we help people learn how to create their own big break, how to be able to get the brand deals, how to be able to work with the kinds of people, how to collaborate, and how to be able to perform in front of thousands of people without having to go the traditional route. The beautiful thing about it is you don’t have to move somewhere to do it. You don’t have to go to some big metropolitan area. You can make it happen if you get clear on the things that we help you get clear on to go out, execute and build that big break for yourself.
The Mastermind Effect: 27:20
When I hear you say that, it makes me think of we are okay with yellow cab. That’s where Uber and Lyft came into play. They took a broken system that if we were still using today, think of all the problems that would still be out there. What you’re doing is you’re just taking what we look is common knowledge and saying, “I’m not okay with needing five pieces of bread to make one sandwich.” You’re cutting out the pieces that don’t need to be there and putting the power back into the people. I love when I hear something like going against the norm. It’s not going against the norm, just doing it a better way.
I’m sure there have been some amazing success stories. People surprise you from time to time and what they’ve been able to accomplish because they went through your coaching and your mastermind. If you wouldn’t mind sharing details and names. That’s great. If not, we respect that here on the Mastermind Effect. Would you please give us the success story of what someone was able to accomplish because they went through your coaching and your mastermind?
Jesse Paul Smith: 28:35
I have a client, in particular, that was struggling with leaning into the who and the why behind their business, which was really the passion behind their business. They are in a network marketing program and had done well before they started working with me. But once we started getting really crystal clear on what were the limiting beliefs that were keeping her from hitting her ceiling. She would hit this ceiling and come back down. When we finally identified that and started to help her realize what she was good at was adding value to the people she wanted to reach, and how that happened, she doubled their income. She went from $15,000 to $30,000 a month income in six months just from overcoming limiting beliefs.
The thing is, it’s not a one-time fix. The issue is now that you know what the problem is, and you know where you need to go, and you need somebody that’s going to continue helping you navigate through the rocky terrain that you have to go through to get to where you want to go. That’s been the thing that even she has said that she needed somebody that was going to speak life into her. One of the things that we do is continually speak life into our clients because they have a lot of doubt. It might look like they have it all together, especially in the entertainment spot. We’re taught to make it look like we have everything together and make it look pretty with Instagram filters, Tiktok filters, and all the kinds of filters out there. And then we have all the things you don’t see behind the scenes, which is the inner voice that we’re battling all the time. When you have somebody that’s speaking life into you, continually telling you that you can, giving you tools and strategies that you can use to overcome your own limiting beliefs, and having somebody that you’re meeting with constantly, it helps you recalibrate.
I usually meet with my personal coaching clients and meet with them once a week. There’s a lot of time between Wednesday to Wednesday, and a lot can happen between that time. It’s been fun to hear her talk about how she loves what she does again, and she sees herself not only connect with their business but also her husband and her kids again. Her business is not something she’s a slave to, but her business is something that she uses as a vehicle to help her do what she ultimately wants to do. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of something like that.
The Mastermind Effect: 31:42
That’s when you get to work on your business as opposed to in your business. When you work in your business, you work for the business, and you’re an employee of the business. Working on it is you get a different perspective on your passions, how to move the needle, and then the people around you.
When we go on the solo shows, we talk about success, the pillars of success, and what does it take to be successful and build a company around? A few of the things are mentorship, experimentation, partnerships, and willingness to fail. And on the flip side, willingness to define success, because when you define success, you, in essence, have to define failure. That’s why so many people don’t define what success is to them. What do you feel is a key attribute when it comes to being successful?
Jesse Paul Smith: 32:37
This is a great question, and I’ve put a lot of time into this because I’ve had to redefine success a lot of times in my journey. I used to think that success meant a certain amount of money in my bank account. I usually hear that when people say that success is not defined by money, they’re broke. And that’s not true. There have been times I’ve made the most money in my life and been the most unhappy that I have been. I find that success isn’t defined by your bank account. It’s not defined by relationships because you can have great relationships with people and be broke. And that’s not getting anywhere, either.
I define success around is how much peace do I have. How much peace do I have when I wake up in the morning? I personally know what it’s like to wake up with anxiety every single day. You don’t know if you can get out of bed because you have all these thoughts of chaos, and you don’t know where to go that it paralyzes you. At that time, I had a lot of money. No money could buy peace. I’ve also had amazing relationships, and being around amazing people helps, but people can’t give you peace. I’ve also had peace when the money hasn’t been as prevalent but been a lot happier. I’ve also had peace when I haven’t had the people around me that I might enjoy being around, but I still have peace. I have found that there is nothing that can substitute peace. So when it comes to success, if there’s no peace in it, there’s no success in it for me.
The Mastermind Effect: 34:32
I haven’t heard it define that way before. It’s so true. If you wake up in the morning and you have that anxiety all day long, there’s no moment in your day that you don’t just feel at peace. I appreciate you sharing that because I know that it’s an intimate thing to go through that.
A few more questions. I feel it’s easy to be successful in times of prosperity, or when the world’s winning, it’s easier to find those wins. I think ingenuity and creativity come when we feel the squeeze and the world is still feeling the squeeze. What are you working on right now that will take place over the next 12 months that excites you?
Jesse Paul Smith: 35:23
One of the things that have been a huge benefit from all of the things that have gone on is just the partnerships I’ve had. I really have a strong desire to impact people’s life. I noticed like being the kid sitting in Wisconsin with less than 25,000 people, and no attachment to the entertainment space at all and dreaming about what it would be like to dance next to Justin Timberlake. When the Like I Love You video came out for his first solo album, I would lay in bed and picture myself at the 7/11 next to him with the same black leather jacket, dancing with him and having Marty Koudelka, who was his choreographer, working with all those guys. I would think about all of that.
I understand what it’s like to be a dreamer. I understand what it’s like to be somebody that’s trying to make it. When I first got out to LA, I went to 100 auditions. Before I heard my first Yes, I heard 100 Nos. I remember calling people and sometimes crying because I wanted it so bad. When I came home from my audition down in Florida, I got chosen and decided who I was going to sign with; I went and told everybody that I was going to go tear up LA. So, I go there real big and get put in my place real quick. After your 10th audition, and they tell you no, you’re like, “I think I screwed up here.” I know what it’s like to have that dream.
When I redefine that this is where I wanted to be and whose life I wanted to impact, one of the biggest challenges I had was that I didn’t have credibility in the industry the same way that I used to. I hadn’t been in that industry, especially in the dance world, since 2006. I had still stayed dancing, but I wasn’t even dancing in the dance industry. So, I was super unplugged. I didn’t have the influence there but I still had the desire. But what has come out of the show. This is why it’s so important. If you find who you want to impact, the “how” will come.
Out of our dance show, we were able to make a lot of impacts. We had 1200 Kids audition for the first season of our Worldwide Dance Challenge show. We gave first place to a kid in Guam, and he’s still getting publicity from winning the Worldwide Dance show. I was able to start to build relationships again with the dance industry. I’m working with a big-name choreographer, helping him build his coaching program so he can make an impact in the dance world. One of the things that I have realized is that you don’t need to be the one in the forefront; you can assist the one that’s in the spotlight. And to me, the impacts all the same. I’m super excited about what we’re building with him.
We still got Worldwide Dance Challenge Season Two that’s going to be coming around. We’ve got goals for $25,000 grand prizes. I want to change 1000 dancers’ life in the next 12 months. With this partnership with this choreographer and who’s worked with some of the biggest names on stage and still is, I think that’s going to be super exciting. He’s also agreed to come and be a judge on season two. So that’s going to be amazing. I’m just super excited about all the things that are going to happen. But again, it came from me getting clear on giving myself permission to pursue what I was passionate about and figuring out how to combine that with what I’m good at and impact the people I was meant to impact.
The Mastermind Effect: 39:45
What is a tip, a tactic, or an actual item that, if anyone listening to this today implemented it over the next 30, 60, or 90 days would see a real impact on their personal or business life?
Jesse Paul Smith: 40:20
We’ve been talking about it pretty much this entire interview, and I’m going to tell you because it made such an impact in my life. It’s the advice that I’m giving everybody. I’ve been giving it for the last year almost. The problem is it’s so simple that people overlook it because they want these ninjas’ tricks. None of that matters if you don’t get clear on these three questions.
The first question is, Who do I really want to impact? I know that sounds basic, but my challenge to you is not just to hear the question. My challenge to you is to answer it genuinely. Now, it took me eight hours to answer these three questions. The reason for it is because I needed to get honest. Don’t answer it based on who you think somebody wants you to say. Answer for what you want it to be and genuinely know it to be. You’ll know it when you answer. And the reason why I knew it was because I was so scared to say that was the person because genuinely, the person that you want to impact the most is going to have the most limiting beliefs around. And so I answered my question, Who do I want to impact?
The second was, How can I impact them? When I got my “who,” I know who I want to impact. How can I impact them? Yes, I danced, which will give me the trust factor. I can say some jobs I worked on. But I also know what I have in my tool belt that I can give them. I knew that at the time, the dance world was shaking with COVID, much like everybody else’s world was shaking. All the places for them to perform and to compete were taken down. I use my business knowledge to build them a platform to do what they wanted: gain exposure, compete, showcase their talent, and build community. I took my skill sets, and with Zach’s help, we built it out. So that was I learned how I could do that.
Here’s the third thing, and this is where I think so many people get hung up because they spend so much time building a plan that looks and sounds good. They don’t ever take any action on it because it’s so complicated. We fall in love with the plan instead of falling in love with the purpose. The third step is What is the next step I can take? Give yourself a win. Some of the most profitable plans and most effective plans have just one step. So answer just the question, not what do you want to do Ten years from now. It’s great to get this big vision. The problem is that the vision is so big, so no step that you take feels like getting you any closer and getting discouraged. You need to figure out how to build momentum. But to build the momentum, you need to get wins. The quickest and easiest way to give yourself a win is to figure out the next step. That’s all you do is the next step. And then reconvene and reanalyze what’s the next step after that and keep taking one step in front of the other. I’m telling you, it will lead you where you need to go.
The Mastermind Effect: 44:22
We couldn’t have left it off on a better, more simple note. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest things to see and to reach out to. We’ve got the co-founder of Worldwide Dance Challenge and the founder of My Creative District, Jesse Paul Smith. Thank you so much for spending your time today and for what you’ve given us.
“If you’ll always focus on the cost, you’ll lose out on the reward.” – Jesse Paul Smith
“I found that if you want results, if you want to learn something, get close to the ones who are absolutely crushing it and just model what they do.” – Jesse Paul Smith
“In order for you to really live a fulfilled life, you can’t just lean on what you’re good at. You have to also find what you’re passionate about.” – Jesse Paul Smith
“When it comes to success, if there’s no peace in it, then there’s no success in it for me.” – Jesse Paul Smith
You can connect with me, Brandon Straza, on LinkedIn, Instagram, or send me an email at email@example.com. I’d love to get in touch and talk more about personal development and how you can move beyond your limits.