Evan: He’s an American motivational speaker, author and minister.
His speeches have been widely viewed and are popular on YouTube.
Lebron James has credited him as part of his inspiration for winning the 2012 MBA Championship.
He’s Eric Thomas and here are his top ten rules for success.
Eric Thomas Rules
- Know what you want
- Work on your gift
- No excuses
- Upgrade your values
- You reap what you sow
- Education is the great equalizer
- What is your “why”?
- Have boundaries
- Speak from the heart
- Succeed as bad as you want to breathe
Eric Thomas’s Top 10 Rules For Success
Rule #1. Know What You Want
You can’t dangle somethin’ in front of my face. I don’t want that. Many of you are taking anything ’cause you don’t know what you want. If I can do one thing for you when you leave this room, I don’t want nothin’ from you but for you to leave this room and know what you want.
What do you want in your marriage? What do you want with your son and your daughter? What do you want in your health? What do you want financially? How much money do you want to make a year? What do you want to drive? How do you want to live? Stop just wakin’ up like a accident.
What do you want? And then once you find out what you want spend the rest of your natural life wakin’ up and goin’ after it. The reason why I speak with so much passion … E.T., why do you speak with so much authority? ‘Cause I’m talkin’ about my life. Not something that I read.
I ate out of trash cans. I had no business eatin’ out of trash cans. I lived in abandoned buildings. I had no business livin’ in abandoned buildings. But, E.T., your daddy wasn’t in your life, your mom was a teenage mother. You grew up, come on E., look at your circ, that’s not an excuse. There is no excuse for not livin’ up to your fullest potential. No excuse.
Rule #2. Work On Your Gift
Worked on my gift. I realize that all of us are born with a gift, but you’ve got to hone it. You know, you’re not going to become great and we talk about the school of greatness. We talk about greatness is upon you and I realized that my gift wasn’t goin’ to create itself. My gift wasn’t goin’ to nurture itself. My gift wasn’t goin’ to perfect itself. That was somethin’ I had to do, and so … Man before you know it we did a video that went viral. I think it’s got over 50 million hits now and we turn our passion into our profit.
Love it man, love it.
Yeah, we turn our passion into profit.
Rule #3. No Excuses
You know what’s so funny? We want people to make guarantees to us but we not willin’ to make guarantees to ourself. Now like you, somebody gave you a guarantee, 30 day guarantee. In 30 days, if you don’t make what they told you, you was going to make, in 30 days you got an attitude, you want your money back. But you never demanded your money back from yourself.
You’ve never looked at yourself in the mirror and said you let you down. Until you get to that point, you let you down. You never, you’re not brave enough. You want to put it on somebody else. The reason why I’m not successful is because of my boss. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and said, “I’m not gettin’ up on time. “I’m not goin’ to work on time. “I’m not putting’ in 120% when I’m at work. “I let me down.”
And when you get to the point where you can say you let you down, listen to me, no disrespect, I don’t care about Glen, that’s not why I do what I do. And I love Glen. I don’t come here and do what I do so Glen can affirm me, so he can give me a pat on my back. I care more about me than I care what Glen thinks about me.
I have standards. I have values. I don’t care how much you pay me, if I speak at an elementary school for $300 dollars, I chose to do that for $300 dollars. If I chose to speak at a prison for free, I chose to do that. And I will not go in there and give those prisoners less than what somebody pays me $100,000. Why? Because I value myself enough to give 120% or don’t do it. That’s the problem with some of you.
You always want to blame other people. You want to hold other people to the fire but you not holding yourself to the fire. You just said you givin’ 50%. You owe you an explanation. You owe you an explanation. You need to look at yourself in the mirror and say why are you only giving 50%, what’s wrong with you? You need to put yourself on punishment. You need to tell you, no more TV, no more snacks, no more desserts, no more, no, we workin’ out now. No more alcohol, not right now.
No, I can’t handle it right now. You need to tell you that you owe you something. You keep going to the mall with the receipt, this isn’t what you all said it was. Glen, you didn’t do what you said you was going to do. Well, you didn’t do what you were supposed to do so how am I going to do what I’m supposed to do for you? You walk out of this room, you owe yourself. I didn’t get here makin’ excuses.
So what my father wasn’t in my life, the truth of the matter is he ain’t never come into my life. So what, I’m a wait for the rest of my life for my man to come? He ain’t comin’. I live in America. I’m an African-American male. They don’t treat us the same. There’s somethin’ called racism. I ain’t going to cry about it. There’s probably going to be racism til the day I die but I’m not going to cry about it. I’m still going to be a millionaire. I’m still going to be one of the top motivational speakers in the world.
No I didn’t grow up on that side of the town, no my mama don’t have no network, no I don’t know a whole lot of people, no I’m not at a country club, no I don’t play golf and I don’t plan on playing no time soon. But I’m still going to be successful. I’m still going to get to where they are. Why? ‘Cause I owe it to myself and can’t nobody stop me but me. And you need to get rid of them excuses and you need to stop pointing fingers at people. And you need to start pointing fingers at yourself. What did you not do?
Rule #4. Upgrade Your Values
A guy asked me about two months ago, he said, “E.T., if there’s one mistake you made, “what’s that one mistake you made?” I said, “I’m going to be honest with you. “My values are not in alignment with my dreams.” I said, “I want to tell you a story.” I got a good friend of mine, good friend of mine. He came to me, said, “Eric, my marriage is not where “my marriage needs to be.
“I need to make some adjustments. “I see you and your wife, I see how much time “you spend with your wife, “how much time you spend with your children, “and I want that. “You buy your wife roses regularly, “you always taking her out to eat. “I’m watchin’ you, you spoil her. “E.T., what can I do?” And so I told him what to do and guess what he started doing, God? He started doing the exact same thing I started doing. And he said, “Eric, it’s not workin’. “I’m doing exactly what you’re doin’ but it’s not workin’.”
He said, “Why isn’t it workin?” I said, “You know why it’s not workin’? “Because your values and your dreams, “you say you want a better marriage, “but I told you, you need to iron your wife’s clothes.” You know what he told me? After while he said, “I’m going to be honest with you Eric. “I know, you told me to iron, you told me to wash, “you told me to cook. “But where I come from,” he said, “I’m going to be honest Eric. “When I do that, I feel like a punk.” And I said, “That’s why you havin’ a hard time doin’ it.
“Because your value system says a man is not supposed “to iron, a man is not supposed to cook, “a man is not supposed to wash dishes. “That’s what your value system says, so you’re doing “one thing but you’re going against your own value system. “The reason why I’m havin’ such an easy time “washin’ clothes and cookin’ and ironing, “you know why? “Because nothing is as important to me as my marriage “and I’d rather be happy, I would rather be happy “than to say I ain’t no punk.”
Make me a punk, I want to be a punk. A happy punk. For real, no, a friend of mine, he came to my house and I didn’t have a mop, and so I was on the ground, and I was moppin’ the floor with a towel. And he said, “E.T., the hip-hop preacher, you on the ground “and you moppin?” I said, “Yeah.” He says, “Your wife got you whipped.” I say, “You didn’t know? “You just found it out?” Been doing a terrible job.
I’m sorry, I am whipped. And after 23 years you should be, and if you’re not, it’s a problem. So listen to me, those of you that said I want to be a millionaire, I want to be the best at this company, right? But your value system says you believe in sleep more than you believe in grinding.
Your value system says you are a consumer and not a producer. And you’re spending more money than you’re making. Why? Because you’re a consumer but you’re reading all the books and you’re saying everything the books are saying, but those books are not in alignment with your values. If you’re going to go to the next level, your values are going to have to change.
Rule #5. You Reap What You Sow
I think what people get confused is, you know, they’re grinding with a goal. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t have goals. But you should be grinding for grinding’s sake. You should grind because that’s what you do. You’re passionate about what you do, so you’re wakin’ up every day with the concept of I have 24 hours and they’re mine.
This 24 hours belongs to me and whatever I do in this 24 hours will determine where I’ll be tomorrow and the next day, and I think that’s what people need to focus on. Like get off of this, I want to make six figures, I want to drive this car, I want to live in this house.
I think what people should be focusing on is, I have 24 hours. Like Oprah only has 24, Bill Gates only has 24, like Warren Buffett only has 24 hours and in that 24 hour period, I can either break my life or make my life. I’m not sayin’ you shouldn’t have goals.
I just think that goals for people is too high on the priority list. I think what should be on the priority list is goin’ to bed, so you can wake up the next day and you can grind it out. I’m just a dude that believes you reap what you sew. So if you’re grinding on Monday, grinding on Tuesday, grinding on Wednesday, if you’re grinding six, seven days a week for a span of five or six years, somethin’s got to come out of that.
But if you’re only grinding, you know, on Monday you fired up, Wednesday you’re back, you’re sleepin’ in, Thursday you got, the hump of the world is up, like I’ve heard people say,
Every day is hump day. Wednesday is hump day. Now Monday is hump day, Tuesday is hump day, every day is hump day. I’m thinking if we would spend more time on what’s my goal, meaning what do I need to accomplish in this day to live this lifestyle and you go after it, then I think more people will be successful.
Rule #6. Education Is The Great Equalizer
I just ran across a quote the other day that says, education is the great equalizer. And I was like, oh, so no matter where you are, if you feel like you started at the bottom, if you feel like you started at the top, but you want to preserve the top because just because you’re at the top doesn’t mean you’re going to be at the top forever.
I mean, you look at great football players, great football teams. You’re not going to automatically win because of your name. You have to keep performing year after year. So if you’re at the bottom and you’re like, man, I’m at the bottom Eric, and I want to live life like everybody else.
I want to fly first class. I want to see the world. I don’t want any limitations. Okay, so I’m using the word reading but what I’m saying is education, being enlightened, being informed. I had to realize for myself, being a high school dropout. You can’t use that excuse forever.
Where I was born and where I was raised, you can’t use that forever. So to me, you liberate yourself Malcolm, you talked about Malcolm. Malcolm liberated himself, and most people don’t know, Malcolm was not born wearing glasses. Malcolm had 20/20 vision but it was in prison that Malcolm learned to take reading serious and he read with a dim light at night. That’s how he eventually lost his sight.
But he lost his sight but he gained his vision. He lost his sight but he gained his vision at that point. So I would say to young people who are watching us, that it’s not optional. The more you read, the more liberated you are and the more you are educated. To me, the more you can experience life like the people you’re probably looking at and sayin’, I wish I could live like that person.
Rule #7. What Is Your “Why”?
What’s you why? Hey, if I don’t give you all nothin’ else, you better start that what’s your why. You know why I do what I do and I do it so passionately? ‘Cause my grandfather was a high school dropout, my father was a high school dropout, I was a high school dropout and we about to break the cycle.
I do what I do so my son won’t have to go through what I went through. When I was at the football game, my little dude went with me. I saw other kids with they … I said that’ll never happen to me. I do what I do because my daughter says she goin’ to Harvard. It ain’t even about you all.
I’m about to come here and blaze you all. Why? ‘Cause I’m tryin’ to get you all in NFL. I ain’t about to miss this opportunity. This is the first NFL team I’ve ever done in my life and I’m about to lick it. I’m about to give everything I’ve got and I will know if I don’t get another gig, it won’t have to do with the fact that I didn’t put everything on the field. What’s your why? Why do you wake up in the morning? Why do you put on that jersey? Why do you go out and practice? Why?
Rule #8. Have Boundaries
I have a ritual where even my closest friend, I have boundaries. So just because it’s my company, it doesn’t mean I can take calls all day. I have boundaries so you can’t call me at a certain time. Why? I’m working. So I’m on the phone all day and I’m saying this to entrepreneurs because one of the gaps, and we’ll talk about this later in the show, but you got to find a gap and one of the gaps for entrepreneurs is that they feel like because they own their day, they can spend it like they want.
You cannot spend it like you want to. So if you were working for IBM or you were working for Ford, whoever you were workin’ for, you couldn’t be on the phone all day at a major corporation talkin’ on the phone. So why do you allow yourself to talk on the phone when you’re a business? Now if that is yours, you should probably, you should make sure there’s no phone calls goin’ on.
That is your business. One of my rituals is when I get started, there are no interruptions. When I get started, I don’t care if it’s my wife, my children, they know that for a certain time frame, I’m going all in and I can’t go all in and answer the phone. I can’t go all in watchin’ TV.
And the distraction.
I can’t go in with the distraction. Some entrepreneurs are like, why am I not blowin’ up? Because you’re not an abstraction. You don’t have that moment of your day. I don’t care if it’s two hours, four hours, where you shut the entire world out. No twitter. No Facebook. No nothing.
No Instagram, what we love the most.
No Instagram, no Instagram.
We love that Instagram.
Oh, for just the two hours, I’m goin’ in and once I come out, then we can do Instagram. But I’ll be honest, your content probably will be stronger if you had that time of isolation, of solitude, where you give yourself a chance to think, you give yourself a chance to go in. And when you go in, you go 120%. So yeah, that’s my ritual.
Rule #9. Speak From The Heart
I think what’s so unique about my presentation is that it comes from the heart. You know, I speak from the heart and I’m not afraid to be transparent. I’m not afraid to talk about my failures. I’m not afraid to talk about my fears. I’m not afraid to open up my life and give my story to the world.
Rule #10. Succeed As Bad As You Want To Breathe
So if you want to make six figures, you can’t just be talking about you want to make six figures. You hear what I’m saying here tonight. If you do the three things I tell you to do tonight, I guarantee you whatever it is you want to do in life, you’ll be able to do it. You will be able to accomplish whatever you want to academically, financially, relationally, whatever. So three things.
All right, I’m going to tell you this story, I’ve got to get out of here. And the story is about, you guys have probably heard about this before. It was a young man, you know, he wanted to make a lot of money and so he went to this guru, right? And he told the guru, “I want to be “on the same level you are.” So the guru said, “If you want to be “on the same level I’m on, “I’ll meet you tomorrow at the beach at 4:00 a.m.”
He’s like, “The beach? “I said I want to make money, I don’t want to swim.” Guru said, “If you want to make money, “I’ll meet you tomorrow, “4:00 a.m.” So the young man got there at 4:00 a.m., he all ready to rock and roll, got on a suit, he should have wore shorts. The old man grabs his hand and said, “How bad “do you want to be successful?” He said, “Real bad.” He said, “Walk on out in the water.”
So he walks out into the water, watch this. When he walks out into the water, it goes waist deep. So he’s like, “This guy’s crazy. “I want to make money, he got me out here swimmin’. “I didn’t ask to be a lifeguard. “I want to make money.” So he said, “Come on out a little further.” Walked out a little further, then he had it around this area, his shoulder area. Said, “This old man crazy.
He makin’ money but he crazy.” Said, “Come on out a little further.” Came out a little further, it was right at his mouth. “My man, like I’m about to go back in. This guy out of his mind.” So the old man said, “I thought you said you wanted to be successful.” He said, “I do.” He said, “Walk a little further.”
He came, dropped his head in, held him down, hold him down, my man didn’t scratch him, hold him down, I got you, I know you busted out but I got you. He had him held down. I need you for a illustration. He had him held down, just before my man was about to pass out, he raised him up. He said, “I got a question for you.” Somebody answer the question for me. He said, “When you were underwater, what did you want to do?”
Female: Live, I guess.
Live, I’m lookin’ for a different word though than live. What’s that word?
Said, “I wanted to breathe.” He told the guy, he said, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” I don’t know how many of you all got asthma in here today, but if you’ve ever had an asthma attack before, you short of breath, SOB, shortness of breath, you wheezin’, the only thing you tryin’ to do is get some air. You don’t care about no basketball game. You don’t care what’s on TV, you don’t care about nobody callin’ you, you don’t care about a party.
The only thing you care about when you’re tryin’ to breathe is to get some fresh air. That’s it. And when you get to the point where all you want to do is be successful as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful. And I’m here to tell you, number one, that most of you say you want to be successful but you don’t want it bad.
You just kind of want it. You don’t want it badder than you want to party. You don’t want it as much as you want to be cool. Most of you don’t want success as much as you want to sleep. Some of you love sleep more than you love success. And I’m here to tell you today, if you’re going to be successful, you’ve got to be willin’ to give up sleep. You’ve got to be willin’ to work off three hours of sleep, two hours.
If you really want to be successful, some days you going to have to stay up three days in a row. Because if you go to sleep, you might miss the opportunity to be successful. That’s how bad you’ve got to want it. You’ve got to go days without … Listen to me, you’ve got to want to be successful so bad that you forget to eat.
Beyonce said once she was on the set doing her thing, three days had gone by, she forgot she didn’t eat. ‘Cause she was engaged. I’ll never forget, when 50 Cent was doing his movie, I did a little research on 50. And 50 said that when he wasn’t doing the movie, he was doin’ the sound track.
And they said, when do you sleep, 50? He says, “Sleep? “Sleep is for those people who are broke.” I don’t sleep. So I got an opportunity to make a dream become a reality. Football players, how many football players. Got anybody like football in here, raise your hand. Anybody like football?
Emmitt Smith, I used to be a Cowboy fan before they did my boy Tom Landry wrong. I used to be a Cowboy fan. And watch this, there was a commercial, Emmitt Smith had won his first Super Bowl and he had this commercial and he was liftin’ weights. I don’t know if you saw the commercial. He was liftin’ and he said, Emmitt said, “You know what? “I won the Super Bowl so I can rest now.”
He was doin’ his bench press. So he said, “I won the Super Bowl so I can rest now.” So he throws over about 325, boom, and he rests for about two seconds. Then he’s boom, boom, boom. You see that? He’s already won a Super Bowl, he said, “I think I’m going to take a rest,” and he rests for how long? One second. Most of you won’t be successful because when you studyin’ and you get tired, you quit.
I’m here to tell you today, somebody came in my office the other day cryin’. I said, “Look, don’t cry to give up, cry to keep goin’.” Don’t cry to quit, you already in pain, you already hurt. Get a reward from it. Don’t go to sleep until you succeed. Listen to me. I’m here to tell you today that you can come here, you can jump up, you can do flips, you can be excited when we give away money but listen to me.
You’ll never be successful until I don’t have to give you a dime to do what you do. You won’t be successful until you say I don’t need that money. ‘Cause I got it in here. Listen to me, Emmitt Smith said this at the end of the commercial. Emmitt Smith said, “All men are created equal. “Some work harder in preseason.” I’m going to say it again because you might’ve missed it. “All men are created equal. “Some work harder in preseason.”
So that means that there are some people who are going to see the professor, going to see the TA. And even when the professor says I don’t meet with you, my TA meets with you, you say, “I don’t want to talk to your TA. “I don’t pay the TA. “I pay you to teach me. “So you going to have to find some time to meet me. “If I got to meet you at the mall, “if I got to meet you at your house, “you are going to see me.”
Listen to me. All men were created equal, some work harder in preseason. When I went to college, guys were way smarter than me. 4.0’s, 3.0, they went to the Ivy League high schools, came to Oakwood from these great high schools, most of them are not doin’ what I’m doin’. Why? “Cause it’s not about where you come from. It’s about heart. You come to a place where bein’ smart ain’t enough.
You got to have heart, that’s number one. What’s number two? Number two, catch number two, I wrote it down. I wanted to make sure you got it. Watch this, watch this. We’re talkin’ about sacrifice now. The important thing is this. You writin’ while I’m sayin’ it ’cause I only have about three more minutes. Listen to me. The most important thing is this: to be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what you are for what you will become.
That’s the number two thing. You got to catch that one. To be able to, listen to me, at any moment, some of you, you can make sacrifices when Monday Night Football is not on. You can make a sacrifice. But when the game come on, for some reason you just attached to it. For some of you, when your favorite show come on, you can make sacrifices on Sunday when there aint nothin’ goin’ on.
But when your favorite show comes on Monday, bam. Some of you, you focus until the phone ring. And you like, “I got to answer it. “If I don’t answer the phone, I’m going to die.” I’m sayin’ to you today that there are some of you, if you give up your cell phone, you will be successful. But your cell phone is more important to you than your success. I’m going to say it again, I’m going to hurt somebody.
I’m going to hurt somebody. Some of you need to give up your cell phone because the time you spend on your cell phone could be used for your success. The time you could be using to be successful, you using on the cell. And the cell phone’s not bringing you nothin’ but a bill. And somebody has told you, you couldn’t live without it. I’m talkin’ about going deep now, givin’ up stuff.
Watch what it says: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could be. I don’t do well in math, you’re right. You ain’t never studied. I’m not good at writing. ‘Cause you have never written before. But I dare you to fail at writin’ for a whole year to see if you can get to the end. I dare you to fail.
I dare you to take that same class over and over again. I dare you to stop droppin’ classes. Like you soft. I always wanted to give up, I’m droppin’. Why you droppin’? I so grateful that the slaves didn’t drop and quit. Say I’m just going to stop, I’m a slave, I’m just going to be a slave, I’m going to quit. Listen to me, the slaves said, “We will live because one day we will be.
Evan: Thank you so much for watching. I made this video Sam Mendemasa asked me to, so if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do.
I’d also love to know which of Eric Thomas’s top 10 rules hit you the most. Leave it in the comments and I’ll join the discussion.
Thank you so much for watching. Continue to believe and I’ll see you soon.
I’m going to beat you to the spot. I’m going to beat you to the spot, that’s what it’s all about, right? For those of us who play basketball, those of us who play football. Sometimes it’s not about bein’ the greatest talent, it’s about beatin’ a person to the spot.
So if I beat you to the spot and I got an open shot, it doesn’t mean I’m the greatest, but I beat you to the spot, right? I created my own shot. I created my own space. That’s what the crossover’s about. The crossover’s about creating your own shot, creating your own space.
The way I have become a millionaire and the way I have become one of the top motivational speakers in the world, nobody knew who I was six, seven years ago, is I created space. I’ve created space. I’ve given myself an advantage that others don’t have and is it hard? No, not really, you just wake up earlier. You can take that , right? It doesn’t mean you have to stay up the entire day but it does mean you have to get to the spot before everybody else.
Let me tell you all, I’m not from New Zealand guys. Come on, listen to me very closely. I’m not from New Zealand. Let me say it this way so I can help you. I know about what team? I’ve never seen All Blacks play a day in my life. I’ve never been to the stadium.
Where’s the stadium? Help me out, where’s the stadium? Okay, I’m going, see what I did? I’ve never been to the stadium. You’re like, Eric, the stadium, that’s that way, Eric, that’s not the stadium. The stadium is this way. I’ve never been there a day in my life. And if you watched some of my videos, I have All Blacks in my videos.
Why? ‘Cause they’re what? They’re winners. And when you’re a winner, you don’t even stay in your own little town. When you’re a winner, winning spreads so everybody, I’ve got videos where I’m like, “You all, I don’t really know “how to show my passion.”
Somebody said get the All Blacks. Ahhhhh, ahhaaaa. I’m like yep, that’s who I need, All Blacks. Yep, yep, I need the All Blacks. I need the, why, ’cause they say what I’m sayin’. They just said it in rugby. I’m like whoo, that’s a violent sport. Their passion is all over there, why? ‘Cause winners win. I can’t explain it to you but you better stop makin’ excuses and find a way to win.
Because once you start winning, you go from 1,500 to 3,000 or 5,000 to 7,000, you remember Steve? From seven to ten. Nothing changed, we still in the basement. We don’t have a building. We still use the garage for all of our products. We don’t have business cards.
We don’t have a five year plan. We don’t have a three year plan. How do you do it then? We wake up and grind. Winners win. I focus more on winnin’ than I focus on structure. I focus on winnin’ and when you become a winner, they start seein’ you with winners.
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