Steve Adams had built a highly successful business, but it nearly cost him his health and his family. The high level of stress was slowly killing him and he needed to act quickly to save his marriage and his life.
After walking away from his business, he went on a quest to learn the science behind stress and burnout. While on this journey he discovered the secrets of how to combat stress and shares how he regained his health, focus, and passion.
Claim a free copy of his book – Unleash The Peak Performer Within You – https://peakbook.tigerpi.com/
In this conversation, you’ll learn:
- The top 5 warning signs of stress
- What are the 2 fundamental factors you can focus on to help you physically overcome stress
- Learn how to eliminate burnout & distraction while reducing stress.
- What factors are killing your concentration (and the secret to maximizing it)
Steve is a former corporate banker and veteran entrepreneur. Steve grew up in Lansing, Michigan as the son of an autoworker. He went on to university and became the first college graduate and MBA in his family. His passion lies in building and scaling organizations through disciplined execution, direct-response marketing, and culture creation that leads to extraordinary client experiences. This book came from the solution to his own experience with stress and burnout while building a $100 million company and is a hopeful solution to others experiencing the same.
Dr. John Meis: Hey, welcome everybody to this episode of the Double Your Production Podcast. I'm Dr. John Meis and I'm here with my partner, Wendy Briggs. Hey Wendy.
Wendy Briggs: Good to see everybody.
Dr. John Meis: Good to see you too. We are so excited to have our guest on. So Steve Adams is has just recently started a company that is about human performance and Steve and I were in a learning group together, got to know each other.
I'm so impressed with what he's put together that I'm looking forward to being a part of it myself and being one of his participants. And Steve welcome.
Steve Adams: Thank you, Dr. John, and nice to meet you too, Wendy.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah. So Steve, why don't you tell us a little bit about your background because you came around this from a whole? I did.
Steve Adams: Yeah. So I grew up a middle-class kid in Lansing, Michigan. My dad was a factory worker at general motors for 33 years. And that's what you do in Michigan, by the way. And he worked his way up and had a nice career, great leader. I went away to college and then got a job in a large regional bank, a super regional bank in Detroit, Michigan, and as a corporate lender.
And Did that for about 15 years and learned a ton from that, it was a high-stress job, but it was also I learned a lot about entrepreneurship working with brilliant entrepreneurs. And when I was in my early thirties, I had a little bit of overlap in my early thirties. I launched a pet franchise.
Where I bought into it. I didn't create it. And my wife and I, and our six month old and our two and a half year old. I quit my job at the bank. No safety net moved to Appleton Wisconsin, which is by green Bay and started our first store. And that the next 21 years was my journey with that. And the first 10 years, it w I made a ton of mistakes, closed five stores, but at the 10-year point, I had two stores.
And then over the next 10 years, I had two really great partners and a great team. We grew at the 47 stores. And we, I don't know, we were doing around 102 million in revenue and had about 800 employees. And that it was a really great ride and a lot of fun.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah. So it took you 10 years to figure out how to do two. You got to down, you went to 47 in the next 10 years.
Steve Adams: Yes. And then it wasn't really 10 years to do two. It was like, I opened eight or nine and closed those don't count. Yeah. Yeah. Their experiences. Yeah. Yeah. I was joke. I had 2 million, a stupid tax that I had. But every business has that and but yeah.
So yeah, once we got to figure it out and we built a team and we scaled it and it was a tremendous learning experience. But it also led to my burnout, which we can talk about when you're ready. Yeah.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah, no, I think this is the next topic because anytime, you're growing your business, there's a point at which I think most people have a point where the, where.
For a variety of reasons, they start to lose their drive and their passion. That's what burnout is. You asked you to describe burnout better than I can. So why don't you do that and why don't you tell a little bit about your
Steve Adams: story? Okay you're the doctor here, not me, but I have doctors on my team, but the, for me the my whole life, I bought wholeheartedly into the mindset, good psychology, growth mindset, grit.
You name it high belief, internal locus of control, own your results. And I did all of that and I was a learner read a hundred books a year for almost 35 years now. But the thing that I ignored was my physiology. Okay. I thought for years I'll sleep when I'm dead. I underestimated the impact of a hundred nights, a year of travel.
And so as I got into, I started this business in 1996 and I, when I got to the point about 2012, I just noticed I was anxious a lot. I was irritable a lot. I was getting two to three hours of actual sleep. My emotional control is, was declining. My ability. to be focused and be productive was declining.
I was having to work a lot harder to get the same result and I ran in, so we, when we moved to DC to do a large acquisition, this was a turning point for me. I met Kurt Cousins, a quarterback of the Washington Redskins at the time. He was from Michigan and he became a celebrity endorser for our Virginia stores.
And I was telling him about this and he shared about a brain coach that he worked with. And I got to know this guy who was a neuropsychologist, and that was my first introduction to a heart rate variability training, which is the ability really, when you do this you learn how to pull yourself out of the stress response mode.
And anyway, I did that. I started to do that training and I realized I could feel different. And by this time I'd made a mess of my marriage. If I would be totally transparent. And I didn't want to lose that. And so I resigned and I sold to my partners and I took a year off. And in that year I did basically everything that I, we teach our clients do now.
And my body came roaring back and my brain came roaring back. And so out of that story, I wanted to create the tool I didn't have. And so that's why we have tiger performance Institute and tiger medical Institute today.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah. So heart rate variability, for those of you who are not familiar with it, we think our hearts beat very regularly.
But they beat relatively regularly. So when there's consistencies in the heart rate, and that's not something that you would ever notice, if you were untrained anyway something that you would never notice, but but heart rate variability is measured. It gets worse when we're stressed. When we're fatigued when we are not recovered fully from whatever stress or exercise or anything, what else would you add to heart rate variable?
Steve Adams: The the interesting counterintuitive thing about it is the more variability the better and the way I like to describe it as using a rubber band analogy, when you have good HRV. It's like a big stretchy brand new rubber band. And that means your heart is flexible and it can take on the variability of life and somebody that has low HRV and that usually comes as a result of prolonged emotional distress, trauma, stress load.
That is like a brittle rubber band, an old one that snaps easy, meaning it can't handle the variability. And that's, there's a lot of mental health comorbid conditions that are correlated with low HRV. Even in my book, I found the research from the CDC nine of the 10 leading causes of death are correlated with low HRV.
But the cool thing is you can change it.
Wendy Briggs: So here's the question I have for you, because this is fascinating. We teach a lot of things in high-performance dentistry is, and one of the things that we often hear from our clients is, nobody, no patients come in and say, Hey, I think I need a higher level of focus on preventative dentistry today, just as I'm sure many of your people don't come to you and say, Hey, I'm really concerned about my height, heart rate variability. They're not going to know that, so what are some of the ways that people can know that maybe they're at risk in this area or they need to focus on it?
We might hear things. I hear things from hygienists all the time. They've been in the game too long, right? They're overwhelmed. They're tired, Dr. John calls this, the tarred effect. And I'm assuming that some of these, some of these symptoms play into, but I also think that sometimes people think this is an outside stressor.
There's nothing they can do about it. If he gets circumstantial and nothing that they can really do to affect it. So give us a little bit more insight there.
Steve Adams: You hit it right on the head. People do feel powerless, especially the biggies that we see are I'm stressed and I can't seem to make myself feel better.
I just feel this constant sense of foreboding and stress. Number two, I'm not sleeping well. Number three, I'm overwhelmed. Number four. I'm not relating well with other people. Number five, I don't have the energy that I had before. Those would be the top five and you're right. We don't lead with HRV.
That's just an acronym in the business. We try to find the pain point and then say, okay, we're going to do two things fundamentally at the beginning, we're going to address your, the way you distress and that's HRV training HRV training. If you do it well using biofeedback device. So you actually understand you're doing it correctly.
This by virtue of doing that alone, you're gonna pull yourself out of stress response, and now you're going to start feeling better and that's going to lead to better immune function, better better emotional control. You're going to be more fo there's there's a list of 10 benefits. But what we try to do is what I call what we do at tiger.
We're like applied biohacking. We try to weave simple that we have simplified it down to a 80 20 approach to biohacking, and we just lead you through it in a simple way, because I, I love Dave Asprey and Ben Greenfield and I follow them, but they're so brilliant that if you follow them after six months, you're doing 39 things and you're like, wait a minute.
I can't do all of this. And most people don't want to put the time and effort to learn all of that. Yeah, HRV is a key one, but we always start with the pain point and then we start with sleep and HRV. Those are our two fundamental starting points.
Dr. John Meis: Another, I think you gave five pain points, number six or seven is probably using alcohol or drugs more than you did. And escalating use of addictive,
Steve Adams: And Dr. John, I when you said that I realized looking back the last three or four years, On my flights home, I was starting to take drinks that I never did that before. And it was all about making myself feel better. That's all. Yeah.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah. Very good. So tell us a little bit about what are the, some of the real quick things that you did to start turning the tables on your burnout?
Steve Adams: Yeah. So the, one of the key things that I had to learn too, is this idea that you have to oscillate your effort and I'm typing in type A's. Don't like timeouts. Okay. Our culture is we start and we go hard until five, six, seven, and then we stop. And, athletes don't train that way. They, they exert effort and then they recover and they exert effort and they recover.
We try to teach our clients to be corporate athletes. And so the big things for me was doing the HRV breathing training practice every day, learning good sleep hygiene. I got an ordering years ago so that I could understand the architecture of sleep. So all of our clients go on those. So we have the data and we can coach them.
The HRV, the sleep practices, learning, look I'm as busy as any dentist. So I don't feel bad saying this. You can find three minutes between patients or at lunch to breathe. And do HRV work a couple of times a day and it'll start to break this always on cycle. And those three things together what'll happen is you'll start to sleep a little better and feel a little better and get a little more energy.
And then you might be ready for the rest of the biohacking process. But until you get that stuff, that foundational stuff done, it doesn't really help to go to the next level.
Wendy Briggs: It almost seems too easy.
Steve Adams: Yeah, I agree. And it's not easy though, because you have to change serious habits. Yeah.
Dr. John Meis: It just your automatic of how your brain doesn't shut off or it doesn't shift. And you can't control what's happening unconsciously, but you can't control your conscious mind and what it's doing so it's very helpful with that. Now you wrote a book, didn't choose it. It does the book follow some of this transformation.
Steve Adams: It does. It'll walk you through the entire process. I researched, I read over 500 peer-reviewed papers and writing that book narrowed it down to about a hundred and then summarize all those papers.
And that's when I started writing the book because I'm not a doctor. I have a doctor on staff, Dr. Matthew, McNamee's a nature pathic MD. So he's both an MD and the nature pathic side. And we've got two additional physicians on our advisory board, along with a PhD level neuroscientists. And I had all of them review this because I wanted to be, I wanted to have a book that was very solid, very credible, something you could trust.
And so I walk you through. Like a scenario of, we live in a world where technology, is accelerating at an exponential level. And so the speed of change is speeding up. And the always on, always available culture is crushing us. And so we've got an addiction to distraction and so at a time when all of this technology is going to eliminate jobs and the entire business models, We're sick and we're stressed and we're distracted.
And so the case I make in the book is that you've got to fight this exponential set of circumstances, not with a linear approach, working harder, longer, faster with better time management. No, you've got to learn how to utilize flow. Which is nothing more than intense concentration on a single thing for a period of time and be able to stack that every day, the average person gets one or two hours a month.
We teach our clients to get two hours a day. That's an exponential approach to an exponential problem, but to do that's expensive physically. So you've got to optimize your physiology, your psychology and your life design. You've got to re-engineer your life to be able to get it. So the book basically walks you through how to do that.
And then we encourage you. If you read all that and you really want to take it next level, get into our coaching program and our longevity optimization program.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah. You've shared your book. You can get it by going to tiger P as in Paul, I, as in India. So tiger pi.com/book. That's right. And that will allow all of our listeners and watchers to be able to download the book and learn some of the secrets. So tell us a little bit about your health program and how that fits with the non-health program and exactly how you help people.
Steve Adams: Yup. So if somebody goes into our health optimization, our longevity program, that's really that's the crown jewel of our company.
And so what you're going to get is a year with a health coach and the doctor, plus, you're going to get our. Our signature online course on how to get into flow States. It's 46, 20-minute video lessons. We really break it down and make it simple to build and create. Cause you really got to re-engineer your life to be able to get it.
And so the big idea behind the health optimization program I think the best way to explain it. Dr. John and Wendy is for me to give you a story about me. Last year I ran a half marathon for the first time in my life. I rebuilt my health to the point where I could do that. And then our program evolved to the point where we integrated genetic testing and this isn't the common garden variety direct to consumer genetic testing that you see.
The company we use out of Toronto, actually partners with research, hospitals, and universities. So they've got a broader spectrum of the most relevant genetic markers that you can clinically impact on a proactive basis. And so our doctor is able to look at your unique owner's manual, your unique blueprint, alongside all of the advanced tests that we do.
Yeah. Aren't usually available to people in a general office because the insurance companies won't pay for it. He's able to overlay your genetic blueprint with those tests and see where you are today and get a hyper-personalized one-of-a-kind health plan for you based on the most relevant clinical issues you have.
So for me, I literally learned it today. And my genetic console. It was a preview that with your cardiovascular system, there's these four genetic markers. You can either have a dollar store set of genetic markers, or you can have Neiman Marcus. I found out I had the dollar store variety and basically it's not a surprise.
My dad's had eight cardiac surgeries. So or episodes what. What I learned from that is he said you absolutely cannot do long-distance running anymore because of your genetic makeup. If you do a lot of running, you're going to amplify the inflammation in the cardio pathways and you're going to cause those genes to express.
And so I'm no longer guessing I know exactly what I need to do. What kind of I need to eat Mediterranean. I need to not do I need to do HIIT-type workouts instead of long distance. I know my detox pathways. I know all of these specifics and Matt said to me, he goes just because you have this genetic profile doesn't mean they need to turn on.
Cause as of today, If you were to look at my general numbers, I look like I have no chance of cardiovascular disease, but in fact I do.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah.
Steve Adams: Interesting. Yeah. So it's the idea of everybody's out there experimenting with keto or paleo or this workout or that, and they're doing it shooting in the dark and what our process, what we, and we also have a neuro cognitive genetic profile, we do as well, where you learn all about your propensity for memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer's. And the cool thing is you, they have, for any suboptimal genetic marker, we have protocols to address it directly. So that prevents it from becoming a reality or at least lowering the risk of it. So that's the cool thing you go from guessing to, I know exactly what I got to do. And
Wendy Briggs: What I was just going to say, just a quick thought in that sometimes I think people who feel burned out feel like there's nothing they can do. And what I've learned today from you. And I thank you for that is that there's a lot more going on that people don't know.
It seems like there's a whole science to figuring out high-performance and burnout that many people probably aren't aware of it. I wasn't aware. So there's a lot more, I guess what I've learned is I don't know what I don't know in this regard. And for me it's always been like, Oh, if you're burned out, you just need to be excited about something. You're not being challenged enough, but there seems like there's a lot more to it
Steve Adams: than that. Matt looks at your neurotransmitters, your hormones, your micronutrients, your gut bacteria, your GI bacteria. And then he does this advanced panel on Dr. John, you know what? This is a cardio-metabolic. I don't know how to translate that into common language, but it's a big, important test.
And so he's able to see all of that. And he says, if I don't have it all, I can't make the recommendation because he said a lot of people, especially when they get in middle age the accumulated stress affects libido, sexual function appetite, how you process fats, everything. And he said, unless you understand your hormones and all of that, he can't even give you a great weight loss plan.
If you don't know those, you won't get the results you want. And my answer to you is I was severely burned out and I was a former college athlete and I was off shell of myself. And now it's four years later and I have the energy of when I was in my thirties and I feel great. People that know me say, I look 10 years younger than when they saw me when I was burned out.
And so you can absolutely get out of burnout and there is a psychological aspect, but I think it's hard to fix that when your physiology is so messed up. By feeling better now you can get some space and see clearly.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah. I can give you a little bit about my own experience. I started looking at HRV maybe four years ago have the heart math devices, the device that I use. And is it, yeah, so that really helped me. Then I got an aura ring which is very helpful which really helped me to understand how bad they, I sleep. And and you, it takes a while to figure out what is interfering with your sleep.
It does how to sleep better. So I tried lots of different things. And now I've got dialed in pretty well. I get a little over seven hours every night and that's that, that seems to be yeah, working for me. But again that along with exercise, I feel the same way you do see, I feel like I've got more energy, more stamina, more more physical.
Then I have, since I was in my twenties or thirties, for sure.
Steve Adams: It's possible. That's the cool thing is you can re-engineer your life and get a new result. It's the empowering thought that I think really want you, we want to make sure people hear today.
Dr. John Meis: I like hit type exercise. So I'm a CrossFitter and my worst nightmare would be if I had to all of a sudden do a lot of.
Long distance running.
Steve Adams: No, I, at first I was safety in college playing football. So I had to be a sprinter and be athletic. And I always said I never ran a more than a mile in my life until 2019. And then I grew to like it and now I'm disappointed that I can't do it anymore. And I gotta start getting new in the hit stuff now, but there's cool things you can do on the treadmill with things like Tabata, sprints and things like that. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
Dr. John Meis: now, Steve, you have a kind of an assessment that you do that people can get on your website and get, is that correct?
Steve Adams: Yeah, there's a quiz. If you go on our website, just scroll down a little bit. It's like a, it's like a beginning stage assessment. And then what we'd encourage you to do is book a free session with me.
And then I just, it's a free flowing one. I just ask questions about, how much time do you get a day in focus. I talk about how your life is designed to talk about what your health habits are now your rituals and things like that. I, obviously I can't get into clinical cause I don't have any tests or labs and I wouldn't, I'm not a physician, but what it does is.
I've already done well in life. I have, I sold my last business did well. This is a mission for me. I just, I want to transform like thousands of people's lives and help them do what they do better in the world. Benefits like what you to do every day. Dentistry and patients benefit from that.
And so if I can help a basketball coach, like from, the basketball coach or an entrepreneur, do their thing better, that excites me. And and I forgot what was the question again? Sorry.
Dr. John Meis: So you already answered it about that. You do have a free session that you can help people get a handle on where they are.
Steve Adams: And my point I was making was. I never am going to talk you into this. I want to make sure you're a good fit and make sure it'll work for you. Because if it's not, I'll tell you.
Dr. John Meis: And one of the things that I've seen in people who end up in deep burnout is they it is a slow effect, so they don't notice how far off track they're getting. And so the sooner you identify whether it's a problem for you to some degree, the sooner you get it, the easier it is to come out of it, the farther it goes, the longer and harder it is to get back the same spark and energy and passion that you have in the past.
Steve Adams: I agree a hundred percent and unfortunately I went deep.
Dr. John Meis: Yeah. Steve, I w any other questions for Steve?
Wendy Briggs: No, I would just say, let's put the link for his free book, as well as the free session on our double, your production homepage. So that those that are listening to this as they drive or something, you can go back to our team training Institute, a podcast, double your production homepage, and we'll have those links there so they can click on it and easily find the resources that you've made available so generously. So thank you for that.
Steve Adams: Oh, you're welcome. Thank you, Wendy. Thank you, John.
Dr. John Meis: Sure. You're welcome, Steve. Thanks so much. That's it for this episode of the double your production podcast, we will all see you on the next show. Thanks.
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