My Interview with Thor Conklin on the Peak Performers Podcast

“The Small Changes That Make All The Difference”

Chris Sparks
Apr 16 · 26 min read

Some topic highlights :

  • Why it is essential to sit at the right table
  • Exponential vs. incremental mindsets
  • How to play the infinite game
  • The necessity of separating results from the process
  • Identifying the leverage points in your business
  • Improving your pattern-recognition
  • Creating sustainable behavioral change in others
  • Building a motivation engine
  • The bottleneck is not being clear on what we want

Audio recording below (39 m). Full transcript below.

Podcast Transcript

Note: Transcript slightly edited for clarity.

Intro: Welcome to this edition of Peak Performers Podcast with your host Thor Conklin. Thor will be sharing the necessary tools, strategies, and psychology you’ll need to become a peak performer in any area of your life or business.

Thor: Welcome back to another episode of the Peak Performer’s Podcast. I’m your host, Thor Conklin, and today in studio we have Chris Sparks. Man, how you doing?

Chris: Fantastic Thor. It’s awesome to be here.

Thor: Excellent. He is the founder of Forcing Function. Peak performance coaching. Man, we’re gonna have a great conversation today because this is my area. I love this. The name of my company is Peak Performance Group, so man I am always looking for ideas, tips, tricks, tools, strategies about peak performance, and I know that you were one of the top 20 rated online poker players, and I’m really fascinated to dive into that area and find out some of the things that you learned. Because look, at the end of the day we can have all the tools and techniques and the strategies to run our business, but if our psychology is off it derails the entire process.

So for me it really starts with that psychology and working with you the individual first, before you can start to grow the business and have a sustainable model.

You’re working on a new book I know that is coming out shortly. I’ll let you talk about that towards the end of the show. But let’s dive into this right off the bat, because you know, I was just reminded literally today at lunch that everybody has great ideas, everybody has these great things that they wanna do, and it really comes down to the execution. It’s really that’s where the rubber meets the road. And it’s about doing the things, the small things every single day in order to produce the exceptional results.

I’m a amateur, very amateur poker player. Not very good. Love the game, love the psychology behind it, on and off … And you know, I think you mentioned something on your website saying you know, poker’s really like life. You’re having to make decisions with imperfect information or lack of information, and you need to make I guess some assumptions of what the other side is holding.

Man, I’m fascinated. Teach us.

Chris: I mean that has enough for me to get into the weeds right there. I mean how much time do we have? Yeah, I mean I do think about peak performance quite a bit, and my primary method is I look at top performers across a number of fields and I try to figure out what generalizes, and see how I can distill that down to habits and systems that anyone can implement. Poker is no exception. To perform at the highest levels requires a mastery of psychology, both personal psychology, what makes one tick. How do you maintain peak attention and energy for long periods of time? How do you make consistent decisions based upon this limited information? And how do you size up your competition, how do you know what their underlying motivations are? How do you steer them towards situations that are going to be advantageous to you?

I think there are so many mental models that transfer over from poker. I’m happy to dive into those more.

Thor: Do. Please.

Chris: Sure. So I mean the first one I always talk about with entrepreneurs is in poker the biggest determinant of success is the table that you sit down at. So if you play poker with players who are worse than you you are likely to win money. Right? But if you play a game that’s really tough it’s going to be difficult to win regardless. So I think that the most important decisions that we make are the tables that we choose to sit down at.

So as an entrepreneur, what is the market that you choose to enter? What is the day to day that you’ve chosen? Right, is there a founder market fit? Who are you competing with? Are these people who you can differentiate yourselves from or that you can have a strategic competitive advantage that’s hidden from them? And same thing if you choose a market that you’re not passionate about, that it’s not a blue ocean opportunity, it’s going to be difficult to succeed no matter what you do.

So, so much of performance in my opinion comes down to this choosing the right table. What are the goals that you want to go after? Beyond that I think the biggest thing that people don’t realize about poker is that it’s not really about results, particularly in the short run. And I think that transfers over to life as well. That it’s all about process. Right? So to make money in poker is very, very long run. How do you have a process that you can repeat for millions of hands over and over again, where short term results are extremely noisy. But how can you be able to test your assumptions, and have very, very tight feedback loops so this process continually improves over time?

With the choosing the table idea, the challenge is if you’re only playing with people who are worse than you it’s difficult to get better. Right? That’s how we learn, is we are taking things from people who we aspire to be, distilling those down and incorporating those into our own routines.

And in the same way we need to be picking markets or products or companies where we have the ability to succeed, but also that we are constantly on the edge of our abilities so that this challenge requires us to acquire these instrumental skills that iteratively get us better and better, because it’s this paradigm shift of rising to new challenges that allows us to stay ahead of the curve.

Thor: Yeah. I like that. You know-

Chris: That’s just tip of the iceberg.

Thor: Yeah. Yeah. You know, who we spend time with is who we become, and what I’m hearing, you know, surround yourself with great people. Maybe they’re not sitting at your table currently … And it’s funny, you know, when you mentioned the table analogy I was thinking you know, it’s important to pick the right table, and it’s also important to figure out what you’re going to serve, because you can be serving hamburgers at 50 cents apiece or you can be serving filet mignon at 50 dollars a shot.

I just got done with a lunch with a client and they have one service, and it’s $5,000 for six months. And I’m like “Where’s the $30,000 service?” Like “Oh, I don’t know who’d buy that.” I said “I don’t know who would buy it but I guarantee you the ones who wanna spend 30 aren’t coming to you because you don’t have it, and unless you have a product … And once you start selling the 30 you gotta figure out how to get the 50, because there’s gonna be people in that marketplace. The reason that you don’t have everybody is that you’re charging 5,000. There are some clients that don’t wanna pay more than 500. You’ve already weeded them out. So figure out what table you’re sitting at and also figure out what you’re serving.

Chris: Well I think it cuts both ways. I think there is an argument to be had for keeping your offering very simple, right? To be able to optimize upon a single dimension and being the absolute best at the thing you do for the niche that you serve. Right? I always try to think about “How can I be number one within a niche” even if I’m the only person in that niche. So picking a very, very specific audience and helping them with a very, very specific problem that’s worth a lot to them.

Now that being said, I think that the most important thing that we can be doing at any given time is trying to break our business. Right? So we always try to think how can we be making incrementally more, right? Get one more client, raise our prices by 20 percent? What you said is sort of “How can we raise our prices by 10x?” Right? “How can we deliver enough value that it makes sense to open up this new market?” And I think a lot of times that’s the highest leverage thing we can be doing, is what can we do that will completely transform what we’re doing?”

Thor: Yeah. And in this particular case, they are a one on one matchmaking service. So they’ve got clients that wanna pay 5,000 to get matched up in this service. I’m like you know, what about going out there and finding dates for them? Finding a specific target market for ‘em? They’re like “Yeah, we can do that.” I was like “Well that’s gonna cost more money, right?” They’re like, “Right.” But there’s people out there that don’t want to just play in the same pool that everybody else is playing. They want you to go out and obtain the supermodel, I guess.

You were talking about the process and feedback loops. So tell me a little bit in poker, what is this feedback loop? Because what we talk a lot about here is tracking, measuring, adjusting, and someone actually threw one in last week which sometimes we all tend to miss, and that’s appreciate of what we have already accomplished. So it’s turned from TMA to TMAA. So I’ll put the appreciation in.

But for this discussion, what’s this feedback loop and how does it apply to poker and how can we apply that to our business?

Chris: I think the appreciation angle is often missed. Just taking maybe it’s 10 seconds to celebrate things that are going well.

With habits it’s these immediate rewards that really reinforce, and it’s like rewiring these neural pathways to say when we do this it feels good, gets us where we want to go. And yeah. Oftentimes we’re already off and running to the next goal, and no wonder we burn out. I think of happiness and fulfillment on a continuum, and especially with the people that we tend to work with they’re way over on the side of fulfillment and they tend to burn out because they forget why they’re doing what they’re doing. They don’t have the part that feels good.

Within poker I believe that any improvement is a function of how tight feedback loops are. So poker for me, it’s extremely easy to get better quickly because my feedback loops are incredibly tight, because every hand that I play I’m able to test my assumptions and then adjust my model. For me, what is the best strategy to make money, but for my opponents what is their way of looking at the world and how can I have a model that’s one step beyond. In chess metaphor, that I’m thinking a few moves ahead of them. That it’s the speed with which that I update my models that gives me an advantage.

I recommend anyone listening to this to look up the OODA Loop. O-O-D-A. I think this is a really good model for thinking about this, and in the OODA Loop basically it’s studying how one fighter pilot beats another fighter pilot. Right? They’re in equivalent planes, but you see these fighter pilots who win if you have a one on one air battle a disproportionate percentage of the time, and it basically comes down to their ability to reorient to their environment faster.

And what happens is you get inside your opponent loop, in that they are acting upon an outdated model of the world. And so this happens all the time. Poker, life, business, that because we are able to iterate faster than our competition, usually through failure, we are growing faster and we are leaving our opponents in the dust.

Thor: Interesting. So in poker how do you do that, because the table’s constantly changing, you’ve got new players in a tournament coming onto the table and constantly being shifted around. Obviously you’re paying attention to what they’re doing when you’re not even in the hand, but many times everything gets mucked and you don’t even know what they had to begin with.

Chris: Sure.

Thor: So how do you deal with such little information?

Chris: So I’ve had success in tournaments, but my specialty is cash games where I’m playing with the same players day in and day out, and so I would introduce this idea of infinite game, where you have the finite game of winning the hand or winning the individual session, but I’m concerned with the higher-level infinite game, with all the actions that I take today affect how my opponents are going to view me in the future.

So I can take actions in the short term which in a vacuum aren’t profitable, but set my opponent up for later, maybe weeks or months down the line. And yeah. It’s updating this model, but what helps is the longer you have … The more hands you have with something, the more of a sample size, the more reliable the data is. And it also makes it possible to manipulate their viewing of me because they’re basing my current actions based upon my past actions, when I’m acting differently from what I used to.

I’m not even the same player that I was before.

Thor: Interesting. You know, we talk a lot about there’s only one reason why a business goes out of business, and it’s not because the market turned, it’s not because sales aren’t where they need to be or expenses have exceeded the acceptable ratios. It’s one reason: You run out of cash. When you run out of cash you’re done. That’s it. You’re out of business. In poker when you run out of cash, you’re out of business.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Thor: Cash management is so important to survival and to growth and everything related to business. How do you manage the cash in poker and how can business owners use those lessons to apply to their business?

Chris: Huh. I think that’s one of the … I think I’ve never been asked that question about poker, which is … It’s very rare that I get a new one. Off the cuff I would say that the usual quote is “Only bet what you can afford to lose”, but I would go even farther than that, is “Betting amounts that mean more to your competition than to you.” In poker, with money, in order to succeed you need to really distance yourself from what you can buy with the money that you’re betting. Right? So I’m often putting the equivalent of cars into the pot. But if I’m thinking “Well maybe I’d rather have a car instead of making this bet”, it’d be very hard to think rationally about what I’m doing. So there needs to be this separation. And a lot of times because short-term results are very noisy I can play very well and have a poor result. Or I can play really poorly and have a good result.

So that’s why I said I’m paying very close attention to the process, right? Did I make the best decision I can with the information I have? I think this translates really well to any investment decision. Obviously stock market, but I think most of the decisions we make every day are investment decisions. Where are we investing our time? Where are we investing in our business as far as the next project that we’re going to take on, and the resources that it’s going to take up, et cetera? So keeping a record of my decisions. What were the factors that came into play for those? And looking back, did I do the best I could with the incomplete information that I had?

I try to minimize my exposure to short-term results so that I can focus on this process, and I think all business owners should do the same. Not hitting f5 on their analytics account or their bank account all the time, but thinking about what are the things I can do today that make this number irrelevant? I like this idea that the score takes care of itself. If we follow the process that we’ve put into place, everything that has to do with finances will take care of itself. I think that’s true in poker, and it’s definitely true in business.

Thor: You know, and the casinos use chips for a reason, because they don’t want you emotionally attached to the dollars you see on the table. They change them into chips. And you know, a lot of times in business we see our financials and we’re just looking at numbers on a page. It doesn’t have that same sense of what these numbers actually equate to at times.

And keeping score is so important. Again, back to that, we’ve gotta be tracking, we’ve gotta be measuring, we’ve gotta adjust it, what’s working, what’s not working. And I’m always talking to my clients about taking some chips off the table. It’s all about at the end of the day creating a profit in your organization, and that profit truly getting into your pocket. Playing poker, you’ve got obviously your chips on the table. You’re not swiping those back into your pocket. It’s not like playing blackjack or something where you can keep scraping some off. They’re almost always at risk or right there being ready to be used or at risk. What sort of psychological advantage does the chip stack play in the game, and is there any correlation to business? Because I see a lot of times, I call this pimping out your business. Business owners love to spend stuff on things that make no sense financially to the business, but they love to have the ego stroke there. What do you see on the poker table?

Chris: There are big psychological advantages. I think on a personal level, success breeds success. When things are going well you become more confident in your reads. You can make more moves. It gets your opponents on their heels. This can play for you or against you. Right? Overconfidence is just as bad as underconfidence. I find in poker that a lot of this is cultivating an image. So you make money long term from poker by people paying you off, meaning that you have a better hand and they call you. But if you’re never bluffing, as we say you’re not getting any action. You’re not going to get any action. People aren’t going to call you. Why would someone call you if you’re never bluffing? So it’s this disciplined aggression. You have to be aggressive enough that people think you could have anything at any time. Right? You’re always capable of bluffing. But you’re bluffing less than they think you are.

So it’s manipulating this image that others have of you, and if people think you’re capable of anything, that’s a really powerful psychological advantage, because it tends to make them very defensive. As far as business goes I always think the highest leverage thing is to lean into strengths. So you know, we’re talking about poker a lot here too. That’s a really big background for me, so I lean on my strengths in poker. Entrepreneurs who I know who either come from the poker world or love poker, we immediately hit it off. Right? We get it. We have this common vocabulary in place. For a while I would try to ignore my poker background. Say “No, I’ve put that behind me, I only wanna focus on business.” It’s like, why shoot yourself in the foot?

I like to think “Disregard ideas, leverage assets.” So in poker your biggest asset is your image. How can you leverage that in order to get more in business? Think about what do you do that basically looks like running up the wall to someone else but to you comes relatively natural? Where are you already really well-positioned that others can’t copy, right? Where do you have a moat? Don’t worry that you have this incredible idea. Think about like where are you best positioned to act right now? I mean that’s the leverage point.

Thor: I like that. The persona that you have. As opposed to online, when you’re actually playing poker in person, tells are a big piece of the game, and what people do, what they do with their body, their language. What are some of the tells in poker that you … Give us some of the tells. Is there anything else other than auditory or kinesthetic? What are the various areas?

Chris: So yeah. We have ESPN to thank for this, but I think tells are the most overrated part of poker. They really don’t play that much of a role. Poker’s primarily pattern recognition. Maybe it hasn’t been clear before, but I’ve had success in the live area but I’m best known as being one of the best online players. So I’m actually playing you know, twelve plus games at a time, where in person you get about 20 hands per hour, I’m playing about five to six hundred.

Thor: Wow.

Chris: So my tells are more pattern-driven, where all humans have patterns, whether we’re aware of them or not. And so I’m trying to pick up patterns in terms of people act similarly when they’re put in similar situations. It’s one of my core beliefs, that we don’t really have free will, that our actions are predetermined by the context that we find ourselves in. So in a poker context, if I could put my opponents in similar situations, I could predict how they’re going to act because people act similarly in similar situations. And that’s the tells that I have on them, is that they have patterns that they’re unaware of. And a visual tell is all that. Just a pattern that is unconscious. Even though I can’t see a person like I’m looking at you right now, right? When we’re playing online all we have is screen names and avatars. There’s a person on the other side of the screen. And I can sense their current state of mind, their emotional state, whether they’re pressing or they’re holding back.

I couldn’t explain to you in words how I know that. Like-

Thor: That was gonna be my follow-up question.

Chris: I would love to tell. I mean that would be the $30,000 course right there. I would love if I could put that into words. All I can say is that intuition is accumulated experience, and if you have a lot of experience in something, if you’ve had a lot of feedback cycles, trust your intuition. And for me, my intuition has paid off many, many times because I have put in the work to cultivate my intuition.

Thor: And how do you manage six games going on at the same time?

Chris: So in psychology there’s this concept called ‘chunking’. It’s belief that we really can’t increase raw intelligence, that all we’re really affecting is our working memory. Right? This idea of seven plus or minus two. That’s bits. That’s why phone numbers are 10 digits, because this is the maximum a typical person can memorize.

Thor: But they’re chunked.

Chris: They’re chunked, right. So when you think about a routine, a routine is a chunk of habits. When you have like a morning routine, these are five habits that are put together into a neat little container, and we chunk those into one big mega-habit that we call a routine, and they all kind of self-reinforce. So in the same way when I am watching six tables going on and you’re watching six tables going on, the mental processes are very different, because for me so much of what’s happening is irrelevant. Right? Most people when they’re looking at a pursuit outside of their own, they get caught up in the noise. But someone who’s an active practitioner can discern that signal very, very quickly.

So most of what’s going on I can at a high level ignore. We think about evolutionarily, we’re very attuned to changes in our environment. These deviations from baseline really grab my attention, and I put the majority of my attention there. So while there’s a ton of action happening, I’m focused on only a very small set of that action that’s actually relevant to the poker game at hand.

One of the studies that I love is they were trying to determine whether chess masters have better memory than a normal person. And so they had two types of chessboard. They had one chessboard that the position had been arrived at in an actual game. So these are chesspieces that actually could be there. And then they had chessboards where the pieces were just placed randomly. And so when they chesspieces could have gotten there naturally, the chessplayers played … Their memory was standards of deviation better than the norm. But when the chesspieces were placed randomly, they performed no better than random, than an average person.

Because of this chunking ability, because these pieces had arrive in a rational fashion, they were able to look at what seemed like just a random collection of pieces and chunk them into parts that they can remember.

Thor: Interesting. And as you’re excluding it … So what you basically do is excluding a lot of the noise, focused on exactly what’s important. You do that through repetition. When you’re working one on one with a client, do you find that your attentiveness and presence is even more heightened because of this, or do you find yourself at the point where there’s not enough going on and you kind of get distracted? I mean that’s not a fair question, with a client. Just in general, let’s say it that way, just so we don’t chase away all the-

Chris: Yeah, of course.

Thor: You know what I’m saying. If people are used to such immense amounts of data coming in, sometimes when the playing field slows down it’s like “You’ve lost my attention now.” Or do you find yourself hyper-attentive? Truthfully.

Chris: Yes, both. So yes, especially after I was at my poker peak when I was eat/sleep/breathe poker a hundred hours a week, real life moved very slow. So it was often commented to me that I was distractible in conversation, not much really held my interest. And so that was feedback that I took to heart. And so the last couple years I’ve really been working on creating that separation. So you know, meditation, yoga, you know, creative pursuits. Just getting things out of my head. Just being generally way more interested in people, learning a lot more about conversational dynamics, et cetera. I think the biggest thing for me is this internalization of this idea that you can always go deeper. Right? So even when it doesn’t feel like there’s not much going on, there’s always another level to things that you can engage your attention.

So whenever I find myself feeling bored, getting stuck in my head, whether it’s in a conversation or otherwise, I’m always trying to think about how I can go deeper, how can I extract more from the experience. And I think the counterbalance to that is a very core belief of mine, is these very intense periods. I think that eight hours of work a day is a fallacy. I think that I accomplish just as much in like two to four hours if I’m working on the right things, but that the rest of the time is spent resting and recovering and planning for those two to four hours. So if things are going to be really intense, and I try to operate at that level as much as I can as possible, whether I’m playing poker, working one on one with a client, or just having a conversation with a friend. I really try to prioritize unplugging and getting away from that so that I have those resources at my disposal for the most important things.

Client-wise, I’ve actually tried to dial down my intensity a little bit. I think when I first got into this performance consulting, I know so much about these things, but that the bottleneck is not knowledge for these people. They already know what they need to do, and the less that I talk in general, the better. So you think about like time of possession, like a soccer game, where in early coaching calls maybe it was like 80/20 in favor of me, as in like “Here’s all the things you need to do to fix your life.” Those don’t tend to go over very well. Right? You need a little bit of sugar with medicine. Now that has shifted to like 20/80, where most of my talking is asking questions, to help illuminate and help them to rediscover what they already knew as far as what works best for them. So there are times that actually being less intense is more useful.

Thor: Yeah. You know, I talk a lot about … When I’m working with a client one on one, I’m always very curious. Before kinda coming up with what is the issue, what needs to be tweaked, I always feel like I’m researching. Like you said, asking questions. And a friend of mine I think put this in a great analogy, and that is the old dot matrix printers. So for all the millennials out there, there used to be something before laser printer, and it was little teeny dots on a piece of paper, and all these dots would then form the image. Similar to a TV. That’s really all you’re looking at, is a whole bunch of little teeny dots. And what happens sometimes is we start to see a couple dots on the page, and it’s easy to jump to an assumption of “Oh, that’s what it is.” And a good friend said “Wait until the picture really starts to appear.” And it’s usually longer than what we have a tendency to wait, because we’re used to picking up patterns. We start to see the pattern, it’s like “Oh, I’ve seen this before. This is where we’re going.”

And I’ve learned to be more patient and draw the process out a little, because sometimes the picture that actually emerges is not the picture that you think it was.

Have you ever seen that cartoon where depending on how you hold it, upside down or which way it is, one’s a princess and the other way you hold it, it’s a old lady?

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Thor: Yeah, depending on … It looks like a princess. You turn it sideways, it’s like “Oh no, that’s an old lady.”

Chris: It’s all a matter of perspective.

Thor: It’s all a matter of perspective, and sometimes you need a little bit more information by asking more questions. I want to dive into, I know you’re coming out with a book. Give us a little sneak preview. When is it due out?

Chris: So we’re in the editing phases now. If anyone has written a book before, you know … I’ve been 90% of the way done for six months. Almost there. The problem when you’re sharing your systems for doing everything, it’s that these systems are not set in stone. So I want everything to be the closest to the modern day as I can. Yeah, the book is called Inflection Point. So something that I’m really proud of in my life is that I’ve been able to create a number of what I call these inflection points where I make a few small changes to my life in terms of habits and systems that have an outsized effect on my trajectory. I think once we’ve chosen what we decide to do, it’s a matter of who do we need to become in order to accomplish that. And so this is what the book is about, how to create the habits, systems, that allow you to accomplish anything that you want.

Thor: I love it. What’s the … Give us a couple pieces from it. A couple sneak peaks at it.

Chris: I’m gonna need a better prompt than that. Ask me any specific question.

Thor: Alright. I don’t know if I’m that good yet. I mean I haven’t read the book.

Chris: You are, you are.

Thor: If I had, I’d be better.

Chris: This is customer feedback right here.

Thor: Alright, good. You know, let’s start … I hear this a lot. A lot of people chase motivation, which is a horrible fuel for the long term, because it’s a great igniter but it’s not a long term sustainable fuel. I think the motivation piece is easy, but when we get into the daily routines and the things that continue to drive us long term, the diesel fuel that really has a lower burning point but that is where all the energy comes from. You pass the motivation piece, you’re diving into this, I call this diesel phase. What are some of the practices, some of the strategies that you’re suggesting to implement in order to drive you through that long drive? That keep the sustainability going?

Chris: Nice. Alright, now we’re talking. So I think about these resources, time, energy, attention, and motivation, as units of exchange. So I’m trying to exchange for example one unit of motivation for two units of time, or one unit of time for two units of energy, et cetera. And I’m trying to create these arbitrage between these resources. So motivation is very useful, but only for getting started. As you said it’s not a sustainable fuel. So when we have these bursts of motivation, let’s say we have New Year’s coming up and everyone’s like “This is the year that everything’s different”, not using that motivation to execute but to set up systems that make daily execution easier. So the way I like to put it is “I don’t do things, I make things easier to do.” That’s where my big efforts come when I’ve had these bursts of motivation, is how can I make what I want to do natural.

This is built into the name of my company. I call these ‘forcing functions.’ It is knowing the conditions in which my best self shows up. How can I recreate these conditions that my best self is forced to show up? Right? I change my defaults. For the long term I think that all progress comes from these incremental changes based upon feedback loops. And so how can we install things in our environment to make these incremental changes natural? I think the critical habits here are regular planning, execution, and reflection cycles.

So for example I like to think about experimental periods. Let’s say the next 30 days, or we could even say for 2019, the next year. What would I like to accomplish in this next period? Let’s set a goal there. And then thinking about what is the daily action that I need to take in order to make this goal possible. Right? Having something to track. It’s a leading measure. Something that reliably will lead me to my goal. And then I regularly reflect. I take a step back and say “Is this daily habit tracking towards my goal? If so, how can I accelerate that progress? How do I step it up to the next level?” If not, how do I change my habit, either so that it’s executing more regularly or so I pick a different habit that will more reliably track to my goal?

It’s these very simple universal principles that applied at individual level are incredibly powerful. It’s these just really small high leverage changes that can make the difference. You know, the difference between having an okay month and an amazing month, having an okay year and a great year. It’s really just a couple habits that are the change.

Thor: Yeah. Everybody wants it to be much more complicated than it is. It’s the small things that lead to the exceptional results.

Chris: You know, you see it in exercise, nutrition, et cetera, right? This eat vegetables and protein and go to the gym for 30 minutes a day. That’s all it is. But that’s not what sells magazines and programs. It’s … Simple is what works. I see this a lot in-

Thor: And consistent. Simple and consistent.

Chris: Simple and consistent. You see this with peak performers across the board, is nothing they’re doing is really all that mind-blowing, but they’re doing it very consistently every day, and they have this system that makes it very easy to improve upon.

Thor: Yeah. And they’re sitting at the right table.

Chris: Absolutely.

Thor: You know, people ask me all the time. “What separates” … Basically three quarters of our clients make an excess of a million dollars a year, and 25% make an excess of 10 million a year. And people are always asking “What’s the difference between those that are making that significantly higher number?” And they’re sitting at the right table. They’re sitting at the right table and they’re executing every single day. There’s nothing special about them. They just chose the right area and they chose to work on it every single day.

Chris: Yeah. I would underline that as far as they made it a priority. Right? So choosing to make 10 million dollars, for example, constitutes a set of life choices that are very different from someone who has different goals. Right? Everything has trade offs due to opportunity cost, and once you decide that you want something everything else becomes clear because the set of actions required to reach that goal are relatively straightforward, but the limiting factor is really deciding that you want it inclusive of all the costs that will come to get there.

Thor: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Well man, we can keep going on for hours, but our time has come to an end, so please tell the audience how they can get in touch with you.

Chris: Thanks, Thor. I mean man, we have to continue this some time offline. I just love bouncing ideas off you. It’s been so much fun. Hopefully you guys have enjoyed this as well. I’m happy to dive in deeper on anything I talked about today, instead of just scratching the surface. If you’re interested more in Inflection Point where I dive into the habits and systems that I’ve worked on with clients to help them reach the next level, you can check out those sample chapters on my website, which is You can also find me on all the usual social media platforms at @SparksRemarks.

Thor: Chris, man, it was a pleasure to have you on. I really appreciate all the insights. I know the audience will get a lot out of this episode as well, man. Have a great year, and I look forward to connecting.

Chris: Pleasure’s all mine. Thank you so much.

Thor: Thanks, brother.

I’m Chris Sparks, founder of The Forcing Function, helping entrepreneurs multiply their productivity by designing the habits and systems which maximize personal effectiveness.

Thanks for reading! If you found what I said useful, hitting the 👏 button below (a bunch of times!) will help others discover these techniques.

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Chris Sparks

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Author of Inflection Point | Performance Accelerator for Entrepreneurs and High Stakes Poker Pro | Founder of

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