EPISODE 115 INTERVIEW WITH RYAN COTE: SELF IMPROVEMENT THROUGH SUCCESSFUL MORNINGS

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EPISODE 115 INTERVIEW WITH RYAN COTE: SELF IMPROVEMENT THROUGH SUCCESSFUL MORNINGS

self improvement through successful mornings

It’s not often that you connect with someone who shares your extreme love of having a solid morning routine.  As many of you know, I thrive on having a curated morning routine that I believe sets me up for a successful day.  Well my guest today even has a whole podcast dedicated to this, called Morning Upgrade.  So cool!  I’m excited for you to hear Ryan Cote and me talk about forming our morning habits, our journeys of self improvement, along with the always important topics of mindfulness and happiness.

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Transcript

Hi, I’m Erin Marcus, former corporate executive turned entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Conquer Your Business. Welcome to the Ready Yet?! podcast. We’re excited to bring you more than a hundred episodes of interviews and insights designed to help entrepreneurs get the financial and emotional freedom they need in order to build a business and a life they’re proud of.

Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Ready Yet?! podcast. I’m excited about today’s guest: Ryan Cote. We had a great conversation about morning routines, because I think I was sharing with you it took me forever to come up with a morning routine that worked. I was so stuck on being perfect that I wasn’t doing anything, which is not helpful. I’m excited for you to share your information, your story, and also what you know about setting people up for success like that. I’ll give you a chance to introduce yourself more formally, but I spent most of my life being not just not a morning person, but like violently not a morning person, like bad that a morning person. So, the idea of a morning routine that didn’t include sleeping to the last possible second just was not in my frame of reference. And then I became an entrepreneur and I got older and those two things have made me a morning person. I can honestly say that routine has I don’t function well without it now. So, before we go even deeper into that, because I’m excited to share that conversation with everybody. Tell everyone a little more formally who you are, what you do, all the good stuff.

 

Ryan Cote:

Sure. I’ll keep it quick so we can get to the meat of the conversation. My name is Ryan Cote. I live in New Jersey, married for soon to be 16 years. I have three daughters, 12, 10, and 7 as we record this. I was telling you before we started recording that they’re at camp right now. They’ve been at camp for the last 12 days, which we’ve never had no kids for that long. And I feel like it’s like a whole, you know, I do miss them.

 

Erin Marcus:

This is how the other half lives.

 

Ryan Cote:

I’m a terrible father, but I’m like, “Wow, this is like there’s very little decisions to make right now except for work and just my wife.” And so, that’s personal note. Professionally, I’m co-owner to my family’s marketing agency that goes back to the mid-60s with my great uncle. Great uncle Tom, to give him a shout out, started it. Me and my two brothers, my uncle, we have other employees too. We have a roofing business now, too, that started in January kind of like just an experiment. That’s going fairly well. It’s new. And then I have Morning Upgrade, which is my side passion project with morning routines, personal development. I’m going to blog, a podcast, a book. I’m not really sure where that journey’s going to take me. I’m having fun just meeting people like you and trying to create something that helps people. So, that’s kind of me in a minute,

 

Erin Marcus:

Okay. I have more questions than I had before. Well, let’s just start with what would make sense, how did you pick the morning routine being such a pivotal focal point of how you wanted to help people?

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah, it’s interesting because like the brand is called Morning Upgrade because that’s like my pillar habit, my morning routine. But really, if you listen to the podcast and you read the blogs and all that and read the book, it’s more about personal development overall. Like the morning routine is the pillar habit I can go into why. But then we talk about mindset and meditation, Masterminds, all the things that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve found really helpful. So, as I learned new things, so I go down this journey, I try to incorporate that into my blogs and the questions that I ask my guests and stuff like that. So, to answer your original question, the reason that morning routine is my pillar habit is because I’ve always been into personal development. If we go back to 2017 in the marketing agency called Valentine, I was going through a lot of things. Meaning like losing a lot of clients, a lot of big clients all at once, really, all within like nine months. It’s like boom, boom, boom, boom. I think it was five, actually five clients, big ones. So, I’m like, what’s going on here? I felt very flustered, felt very mediocre, felt like the sky was falling. But I had enough awareness I guess, to realize that obviously things were broken in the business that I had to fix, but things were probably broken with me too. And so, I had to like work on both and that set me down the whole journey of like, I stopped eating red meat. I watched a documentary and it messed me up. So, I was like, “All right. Well, I have that to list.” I started doing like different type of physical activity, like boxing and now, I do Krav Maga just looking for things that are uncomfortable for me.

 

Erin Marcus:

So, I used to do boxing and Krav Maga. We didn’t even have that conversation.

 

Ryan Cote:

Oh, really?

 

Erin Marcus:

So, I’m a little older now. What you don’t know is I’m five feet tall. I weighed a hundred pounds most of my life and I love fighting is exercise. Absolutely. 

 

Ryan Cote:

Successful.

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. So, one of the things that is kind of built into what you’re talking about when you mentioned that the morning routine becomes a pillar, that morning habit becomes a pillar habit. I think you’re absolutely onto something there because my own self-improvement journey really kicked in when I created the morning routine. Like I was doing the things, right? I was reading books and having conversations. I was doing a variety of different things, but I love how you call it a pillar habit because I do think that is setting the stage from the get go each day.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. It influences your day. And when I found least in my experience is that it has a ripple effect. So, now, I’m always looking for things. I started doing Krav Maga because I was looking for something to shake things up, make myself uncomfortable. My antenna is always up looking for tweaks to make, like now on my phone, I subscribed, I pay for a brain training app because I feel like 10 minutes a day doing those games is probably good for the old brain, different books I’m reading. Obviously, it influences what I do at Morning Upgrades. So, what you’ll find, I think my experience is that as you get more into your personal development and you have your pillar habit, which I think is the morning routine, you’ll start to look for other areas. It becomes kind of addictive, especially as you see gains and you feel different. It just becomes a snowball that just grows and grows.

 

Erin Marcus:

Absolutely. And I think it almost becomes easier. Right? In the beginning, if you’re new to personal development, some of it is real hard. I always say one of the phrases, one of the quotes that I cannot say the guy’s name so I won’t even try because I’ll butcher it. He’s got a very long Austrian or German name that I cannot remember. But one of my favorite quotes that I now hold onto so tightly is success is tied to the amount of truth you can learn about yourself without running away.

 

Ryan Cote:

I like that. I haven’t heard that before.

 

Erin Marcus:

I’ll look it up and send you the guy’s name, but success is tied to the amount of truth you can learn about yourself without running away. When you first start a personal improvement journey, it’s not easy to not only realize, but be okay with the fact that the biggest problem in all of your failed relationships is you, right? The only consistent thing in all of your failed relationship. That’s those demotivational posters. The only consistent thing in all of your failed relationships is you. But if you can get over the hurdle of feeling crappy about it, it’s amazing what’s possible.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I think you just need to embrace that no one’s perfect. This journey, this personal development journey, trying to close the gap of who you are today and who you could be in the future, it never ends. Like I still make mistakes and bad decisions. Like I mentioned before, I’m in the mode right now of trying to just stack habits and good habits. Like not huge things they’re going to take, like the brain training is 10 minutes. The Krav Maga is twice a week for an hour, the books it’s maybe 5, 10 pages a day. I’m reading this book right now called Fans First, which is about customer service.

 

Erin Marcus:

Yeah. So, the Savannah Banana, right?

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah, I know Jesse.

 

Erin Marcus:

I’m actually going to be with him in November, I’ll be with Jesse Cole.

 

Ryan Cote:

Oh, with Jesse? Oh, he was in one of my Masterminds, like a year or two ago. So, he’s a very interesting guy.

 

Erin Marcus:

He’s very interesting. I love his approach. It’s different. It’s a different level than be of service. It’s like the next level.

 

Ryan Cote:

Oh, yeah. His ideas, his brain operates. But I want to get your thought on this, not to go into like podcast host mode now. In the company, in Valentine, like I send out an email every Sunday to the team sharing like wins and company news and personal development tips just to kind of pepper them with stuff like that. Whether they do anything with it or not, that’s up to them. They’re in their adults, they could choose their path. But like I try to like just have a little influence and my one brother knows I have the podcast, all that stuff like Morning Upgrade. And he’s like, “Isn’t it stressful to always never be totally content with where you’re at? Isn’t it stressful to always like want to be trying to like, and he was asking like a serious question. I’d love to get your thoughts on that.

 

Erin Marcus:

Yeah. That’s so funny that you bring that up because it’s very timely. So, there’s a difference between I’m not discontent, uncontent, I don’t know which word that is. My journalism degree just failed me right there. I don’t know what word that is. I’m not content. Those are two different things. Being grateful and content and proud of myself and happy in a moment has nothing to do with wanting more. Because I don’t feel like I’m lacking. I just feel like how much fun is it to keep going.

 

Ryan Cote:

Right. I agree with you. That’s kind of the answer I gave him. I said like, “I think we’re all wired to want to achieve and grow because that’s to me like the point of life.” 

 

Erin Marcus:

Well, great. More life, right? The more life directive. But what’s interesting to me is there’s a lot of, and it’s the chaos in my life, there’s a lot of activity in my life right now. It’s very frustrating just because of timing and I found myself this morning in my journal, writing four pages of things that I’m currently mad or annoyed about. And normally, I wouldn’t want to give those things energy, but you have to process them or they crop up on you later. So, it was get them all out. Okay, fine. They’re done, which to me feels similar to your brother’s question. Wanting more doesn’t make me discontent now. Wanting to give energy to the outcomes that I desire doesn’t mean I’m never not frustrated. We’re not trying to erase the human experience.

 

Ryan Cote:

Right.

 

Erin Marcus:

We’re not trying to act as if we’re perfect, to your earlier point, or that we’re never upset or that we don’t make mistakes or that any of the things.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I try to keep myself like present. I’m trying to really focus on gratitude practice and keep myself present. I’ve got like a goal sheet here that I read every morning. And I have a section with my goals, but I have a section with things that I’ve done over the last 43 years that I’m proud of. That’s been my answer to it, just trying to still achieve, but still be conscious of.

 

Erin Marcus:

There was one of the challenges I had in my entrepreneurial journey and probably back in corporate, if I really think about it, is the ability to hold the vision but act in the present. Because if all you do is hold the vision and all you do is compare yourself to the ideal vision, that’s when you’re unhappy. Because The definition of frustration is the difference between desire and reality.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yes. Yeah. I’ve heard that.

 

Erin Marcus:

Right? 

 

Ryan Cote:

That’s so true. 

 

Erin Marcus:

So, if all I’m doing is looking at what I’m not yet achieved, then yes, I’m still stuck on whether or not the words, discontent or uncontent or whatever, but I’m not going to be happy. But can you hold those two things at the same time? Can I have the vision and be grateful for the achievements? I love that you have an accomplishment list as much as a goal list because too many times, very driven people focus on what they haven’t yet done.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s my answer to it.

 

Erin Marcus:

Loving what you’re learning here and interested in more? Check out our free Facebook group and join us at Conquer Your Business Community to find even more tips and tools designed to help you get out of reaction mode and into conquering your own business.

 

Ryan Cote:

There’s an author I was reading. The book is behind me, but it’s Peace Is Every Step. It’s by this Buddhist monk. He’s not alive anymore. I can’t think of his name. But if you look at the book and his thing is like mindfulness, like teaching yourself how to be mindful in everything you do. Even walking, washing the dishes, like the simple things and it’s good. The book is teaching me different strategies on how to appreciate even the small things and become more present like we’ve been talking about.

 

Erin Marcus:

I think it’s important because like you have three businesses and a family. I’m going to assume men have some of this. I know a lot of moms have this, so I don’t know why dads wouldn’t, but the whole mom guilt. And one of the things you see with entrepreneurs, or even people who go to work, they’re not present when they’re at work because they’re worried about their kids and they’re not present with their kids because they’re worried about work and you just end up not actually getting to enjoy any of it because you’re always worried about the thing you’re not doing.

Ryan Cote:

So, one of my other Masterminds, this guy Tommy Breedlove, he teaches it’s not really balanced. It’s like rebalancing. So, I try to be conscious of what really feels out of balance and I’ll focus my attention on that. If I feel like I’m really ignoring my kids a lot, I’ll try to focus more on them and just kind of all these rebalancing. 

 

Erin Marcus:

It’s the harmony thing, right?

 

Ryan Cote:

The harmony, yeah. I also try to like going back to the habits. I’m trying to put things into my life that will not force me to like I’ll use my kids as an example, not forcing me to spend time with them because I want to spend time with them, but just to make it easier, like we’re getting to the habit now of every Saturday or Sunday, we go to this restaurant by us called Yard House and it’s in the mall. So, it’s jacking up my expenses, but we’ll go grab lunch and then we’ll walk around the mall, not buy anything, just get exercise and just spend time together and we’ll have lunch and then go walk around the mall. So, they’re starting to look forward to it. So, it’s like looking for things like that to layer into my day where I have opportunities to do stuff like that, drive them to school. It’s not perfect, but–

 

Erin Marcus:

I’ll tell you, so my niece just graduated eighth grade, she’s going into high school. We had a party for her recently. One of the things he said at that was his biggest favorite memory right now is that he drove her to school every day. He has driven her to school 95% of the time. Like you said, it’s about making it easy to do the things you said you want to do. It’s amazing to me, myself included, how much people don’t do the things they say they want to do, not the things they have to do, but we don’t do the things we say we want to do more of.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I mean, I’m trying to get really intentional with what a full life looks like and take the action on it. I don’t know if it’s because like statistically, my life is halfway over. But I like what does a fun fulfilling life look like? And obviously, we need to work hard and all that. But the other side of that, like the fun side, what does that look like? And what do I need to do? And I’m really trying to be intentional. My wife is the same way. She loves the experiences. 18 months ago, I saw a charge on the credit card and I’m like, “Oh, what’s this?” And she’s like, “Oh, we’re going to Alaska. I just signed this up for an Alaskan cruise.” So, she just does things like a crazy person, but it’s all fun. We still have to work hard, but what does that fun equation look like? And then how do we make it happen?

 

Erin Marcus:

And the making it happen, I think is the key part. Humans do this really weird thing with time because we’re always talking about how we’re so busy, we’re so busy, we’re so busy, but we also act as if we have forever. We act as if we have forever. We talk about we’ll do that when, we’ll do that when we retire, we’ll do that when we’re older, we’ll do that when we’re not busy. That doesn’t ever happen. Why are we waiting? Why are we waiting to do the things instead of building them into our life now? It’s not about money. It doesn’t have to be about money. I volunteer on Fridays at a wildlife rescue.

 

Ryan Cote:

That’s cool.

 

Erin Marcus:

So, I want to be immersed in that environment that doesn’t cost me a dime. So, it’s not really even about the money. Yeah, one day I want to go on the big African safari. So, that’s being put on the schedule, but in the interim, what could I do to feed that joy instead of wait.

 

Ryan Cote:

I always wonder what the lack of an action. Is it lack of belief in yourself? Is it thinking things can’t be better for yourself? I’ve always wondered that. 

Erin Marcus:

I think Jim Rohn has the best response to that.

 

Ryan Cote:

What is it?

 

Erin Marcus:

What’s easy to do is just as easy not to do.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I’ve heard that. Used to be a Jim Rohn fan, yeah.

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. And it’s so true. It’s a lack of perspective. My tagline in my business is be in charge, take action, get results. One of the things that I’ve learned and where that came from and this has to be a learned thing otherwise, so many people wouldn’t be doing it. We have the right and the authority and the ability to be in charge of our lives. Most people live in reaction mode. Most people don’t make decisions because they don’t want something to be their fault. Most people don’t think or at least don’t behave as if they’re in charge of their own lives.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. There’s a book I read that talked about becoming like the CEO of your life and treating your life like you’re the CEO. Not blaming others, not making excuses, just take action. Nothing’s perfect but just keep on taking action every day and working towards your goals, working towards your personal growth and eventually like Darren Hardy says the compound effect takes a hold. It’s like, ‘Oh, wow, things are actually improving here, which is kind of exciting.’

 

Erin Marcus:

I think people are so worried and I get it, completely been there. You’re worried in the beginning because it feels icky because you think you have to admit you did all these things wrong when it really isn’t about that. It’s about letting go of anything you think you did wrong.

 

Ryan Cote:

Right. Yeah. Forgiving yourself and just going for it.

 

Erin Marcus:

Going from there.

 

Ryan Cote:

I hear too many stories. Not to be a downer, but like my one friend whose mother lived a healthy life, retired. And when she retired, she got a disease where you get paralyzed and you suffocate. I can’t remember what it’s called, but I’m like, “Man, oh man or like people my age, in their 40s having a heart attack and dying. I’m like life is too short. We only have a certain amount of good years. I don’t know what that age. It’s different for everyone. But up to a certain point where you just like, you’re not healthy enough to go for it anymore. So, that window of healthy, strong years is not that big. 

 

Erin Marcus:

And if you want to have a better later life, you have to start those habits when you’re younger. My aunt who ended up passing at 102 used to say, “They’re not the golden years. They’re the rusty years.” So, if you had to give people, if we had to leave them with one strong insight piece of advice, what would you tell people?

 

Ryan Cote:

I mentioned this word a couple times. I’m such a huge fan of them and I can tell you why. I just want to bring everyone’s awareness in. In case, they’re not familiar with it but I mentioned a couple times the concept of Masterminds. It’s been such a game changer for me and I’ll tell you why. Well, actually I take a step back. Masterminds, it’s different for every group, but basically you get together weekly, biweekly and you’ll have a common goal of growing together, working on your businesses, the challenges, it’s sort of like a board of directors. So, every week, you show up to pour into others and they pour into you. And it really becomes like this tight group, at least in my experience, if everyone takes it seriously. For me, I feel like every week that I meet with my group, I’m a different person because everyone in the group is very inspiring. Like one of the guys has 350 homes that he’s bought over the last few years, others run these like crazy businesses and it makes me, not that I’m competing with them, but they’re inspiring. And they want me to like–

 

Erin Marcus:

I mean, going back, you had mentioned Darren Hardy, he talks about, he’s not the only one, you’re the average of the five people you spend most time with.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yes.

 

Erin Marcus:

And it’s so, so, so true. Misery loves company, but so does achievement. Right?

 

Ryan Cote:

They push you to do things. It pushes you out of your comfort zone because it can feel uncomfortable. Like you’re trying to show up and give advice. For me, at least it was a little bit uncomfortable at first. Like I said, every week, I feel like I’m a slightly different person after that meeting and I’ve been doing it for four years. So, it just keeps on stacking. So, I would say my biggest piece of advice, if you haven’t heard of a Mastermind, it’s kind of a big thing now. There’s probably a group for you and just go look, give it a try and I think it’ll make a big difference if you give it your best effort.

 

Erin Marcus:

And then for people who want to continue this conversation and get your tips and insights, because I know you have all sorts of content that you share, what is the best way for them to find you?

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. So, for the personal development more and routine stuff, that’s Morning Upgrade. And then the marketing agency we’ve been talking about Valentine, that’s valentine.com. So, it’s morningupgrade.com and then valentine.com. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing all this because I know we had so much in alignment with not just how to do it, but what’s possible. I love meeting people who just are all about what’s possible.

 

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. This was really fun, Erin.

 

Erin Marcus:

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Ready Yet?! podcast. I truly enjoy bringing these stories of success and inspiration to you. Please join us in our mission to empower entrepreneurs to be in charge of their businesses and in charge of their lives by sharing this with anyone you know who would benefit from our tactical and motivating advice, leaving us a review and letting us know if there are any particular topics you would really appreciate hearing about. See you next time.



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