Today’s episode is an exclusive interview with the one and only Ed Mylett. You might know him from social media as Mr. Maxout, but he’s been a mentor of mine for the last ten years. For those of you who don’t know him, you’re in for a big treat.
In his journey, as well as my own, we’ve seen the colossal impact of mentorship. In this interview, Ed reveals a bit about his life and mentorship, discussing:
The importance of having a mentor and how his mentors have shaped him into who he is today.
Finding new mentors as he grew (and when he least expected them).
What he does to intentionally build his team – based on what he has learned from the mentors that have built into him.
As you go through this interview, think about specific areas in your life where you can apply these principles. No matter who you are, these ideas apply to you. These things matter.
Q. Mr. Maxout, take us back to when you first started with Primerica… how bad were you?
A. How bad was I? Well…I was in college when I got recruited and I thought I was going to do really well and so I recruited some guys. But…they all quit – so I quit. I quit the business. So I went back to college here in Stockton. For those of you who don’t know, Stockton is near to where we are recording now, at the University of the Pacific – so I’m familiar with this area. I actually had offices up here in WMA, Primerica and WFG. Anyways, long story short, I quit and my upline in that company was my best friend’s dad – Steve Adams.
After I quit, he started to send me a handwritten letter on letterhead every month saying: Eddie here is an article that you should read. Things are going great! You’re gonna be the greatest of all time and the business can’t wait till you graduate. This is what you’re going to do with your life, you’re going to be a better speaker than Art Williams.
Then he’d write me a letter next month: Just want to remind you that you were born to do this, don’t get a job when you get out of college.
For two years I would get a handwritten letter every month from this man. What I didn’t know at the time was that he was living off of his retirement plan, he had one recruit the entire time he had been in the business, before me and after me. His wife was telling him to go back to his old job, he had been a manager at a JC Penney store, making about 80 grand a year and had quit that to do the business. So, he’s struggling, depleting his savings, only making one or two sales a month, recruiting nobody but selling me the dream every single month.
When I came back after college and started in the business again, I started to quit a second time. Things just weren’t working out and I was young.
I was living back at my dad’s house when I got a knock on my door, it was Steve and Carol Adams – they’re like my second parents. He tells me to get ready to go, that we’re going to the big event in the desert in La Quinta. I told him I wasn’t going to the event, I hadn’t bought a ticket. He told me that he had bought me a ticket and to pack my bag because we were leaving in 20 minutes. No joke, 20 minutes later, I got into his car with a bag and we drove two hours out to the desert to go to this event.
The whole drive this man’s telling me, “You’re gonna be the greatest of all time at this. Eddie, I’m telling you, you were born to do this. There’s just something about you I know it. You’re anointed. You’re going to do something special. You’re going to be the biggest ever at this.” Meanwhile, I still don’t know that he is going broke, his wife is trying to talk him out of the business and he’s still selling me the dream.
Eventually, we get to La Quinta and he goes to check into the resort while I wait in the lobby. 90 minutes later, he finally comes back and tells me that they got me a room and that he and Carol, his wife, will see me at the event tonight. I asked Steve where he and Carol were going. He told me that they were going to stay somewhere else.
What I didn’t know was… when he tried to check into the hotel, his credit card didn’t work so they had spent 90 minutes trying to get an extension on his credit card, when it didn’t work they just got me a room. He and his wife slept in their car for two days at the event and I did not know that until about 10 years later. That event is when my life changed. I didn’t know what Steve and Carol had done for me but that event is when I made the decision that this is what I was going to do.
So that’s how I started. I started by quitting a couple of times – but I had someone who believed in me. The impact of what he did is enormous. None of this would be here if this hadn’t happened. Transamerica probably wouldn’t own our company if he hadn’t taken me to that event, or written me those letters. Think of the magnitude of that… this particular company probably wouldn’t have wanted to buy this building had my hierarchy and me not been in it. It’s crazy… those are the ripple effects of decisions when you’re struggling.
He changed my life by believing in me.
Q. When did you and your business really start to take off? Did you build anything in the previous company?
A. Yeah, I did so in the previous company at 22 years old I was the youngest ‘NSD’ (which is like a CEO) in the history of that company – still to this day.
I’ll tell you what I was good at and what I struggled with at that time. I could write business, I learned how to close, I went to Tom Hopkins seminars and I believed in the product. But, I could not figure out recruiting. And, when I could get recruits…I couldn’t figure out how to keep them. I couldn’t figure out how to build a team. I just struggled with that for years. I was not good at keeping or developing people in my business.
I’ve always made money. When you hear the stories of when I went broke, that’s mainly when I left that company. I’ve always paid my bills. I always made sure we had food on the table. There is no reason for anybody in our company to struggle financially if they have a pen. There’s no reason whatsoever not to be able to write. If you don’t it’s because you’re just lazy, you just flat-out don’t work hard, you don’t work consistently, you don’t make phone calls every day. If you just work at the business consistently you’ll make money.
The funny thing is, people always worry about whether or not they will make money with the business. Absolutely you’ll make money. The question is whether you build a team and build leaders.
If you’re still worrying about money, you don’t trust yourself to work hard because if you work hard you’re going to make money.
So anyway, I’m in this season of struggling to recruit and I drive up to Rich Thawley’s house to recruit him. I have a full suit on, Ferragamo shoes. He’s in sweatpants and tennis shoes from Kmart and a Nike ball cap. I get out of my Porsche and he says, “that’s a stupid car,” and we stand in his front yard not talking for 20 minutes. He’s watering his lawn with this giant fire hose and tells me to grab on to the hose and help him. So, I’m holding part of this hose, walking in the mud…in complete silence with this stranger – it’s the weirdest thing. Finally, he asks if I want to talk about business and of course, that’s what I came for…not to water his grass. So he suggests that we take a walk.
So, now my expensive shoes are all wet and we walk the entire perimeter of his dirt vineyard. Despite all of this, by the time we got to the first corner of the property, I just knew that I wanted to go into business with this guy. I knew he would be my mentor, and that I would probably know him for the rest of my life. Going into it, I had zero intention of leaving that company. I was carving this dude up. But, I knew within about 200 yards that we were supposed to work together.
Q. What was it about him?
A. I really believed that he would care about me and believe in me – like sincerely put me in front of himself. I think that’s what a great leader does. That’s why I think women are better leaders than men. I don’t say that to be patronizing.
I genuinely believe that great leaders in the modern business world are people that love, care, believe and help people.
In Thawley, I sensed it overwhelmingly. He was just a good man. It was not about him, it was really about me. I knew he didn’t need me, he was already very wealthy he just wanted to pour into me.
Q. When you see someone that you identify as a leader, what does ‘pour into them’ mean for you and what do you expect in return?
A. For me, the first way I pour into a potential leader is by talking to them alone and spending the day explaining to them why I brought them on and what I see in them.
I recently did an interview with someone and I stopped him five minutes into the conversation and I said, “Can we stop? I just want to tell you what I see in you.” After I told him, he started crying. This man is very successful, he’s Oprah Winfrey’s coach. It was so impactful for him…and everyone else I do it to because people never have someone look right at them and be sincere about the specific things about them that are amazing.
So, when I’m pouring into a leader, I pull them in and tell them what I see in them, what I believe in them and then I repeat it whenever I see them.
I don’t expect anything in return. I just want to focus on them, their world, their space all the time and then I link what I tell them about themselves – this is important – to what I want them to do.
Then I’ll get at them from every angle. What I mean is, I’ll ask other people to tell them what I’m saying about them and I’ll say it publicly when they’re not there so what I said gets back to them from someone else. I get all the leverage in the world that I can on somebody, I don’t just use me, I use everyone around them. If they’re married, I’ll always call their spouse when they’re not there and just talk to their spouse about them. When they get home, their spouse tells them what I said.
You know what really makes an impact? Write a handwritten note to their family about what you think about them and what they’re about to accomplish and mail it to their address. So when they get home from a tough day, their family has just read this letter about what I believe about them.
To this day, I sometimes run into people who have quit WFG and they not only have the letter that I wrote to their family but they have it with them. The point of this tactic is, as their mentor, is that I get people thinking about themselves and believing in themselves and then I leverage the people around them to remind them of what I’ve said to them.
Thanks for joining on this week’s #MomentumMonday. Stay tuned because I have more from my interview with Ed Mylett that I will release over time. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube to stay up-to-date on my leadership and mindset tips!