Episode 39: Vernon Brown – Find Your Happi Place And Change Your Life

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Gold Nuggets

  • “Your brain is not designed to keep you happy; it’s designed to keep you alive.”
  • “When you have more energy because you’re doing your HAPPI, all of a sudden things start making sense.”
  • “Shifting your state of being gives you more energy to do all the things that you really want to do.”
  • “KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. You don’t need to make it complicated.”
  • “Fun is the first thing that goes whenever we start working on something in life that we’re excited about, and it needs to be the first thing that stays.”
  • “Often times, we’re just busy for the sake of being busy.”
  • As entrepreneurs, we got into business because we thought we could succeed.

    “If a thought led you to action, why not take more time to think?”
  • “What’s the fastest way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
  • “Everything that we needed to be successful in life we learned when we were kids, and we need reminders of it.”
  • “We must work hard not to become our struggle. Whatever you’re experiencing is not who you are.”
  • “It’s not your last decision that’s going to determine your path; it’s your next decision.”
  • “Happiness cannot be travelled to, cannot be owned, cannot be earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

Meet Vernon Brown

Our guest is Vernon Brown, Founder of What’s Your Happi. He is a sought-after keynote speaker, happiness coach, and certified life coach.

He started out working as a model and actor in New York, but eventually turned to life coaching in search of fulfilment. In 2013, he Founded What’s Your Happi. Motivated by his own life experiences, Vernon has coached thousands of people, and helped them find and sustain their happiness.

Smart Man, Smarter Woman References

We talk about a lot in each episode; however, we don’t want you to miss a thing! Here are some key items were mentioned if you want to take a closer look.

Website Recommendations:

Book Recommendation:
Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day, by Jay Shetty
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/Whatsyourhappi

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Steve Loates (00:00):

Welcome, everyone, to our podcast, Smart Man, Smarter Woman, a podcast for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. And thank you for giving us a listen today. I am Steve Loates.

Juliet Aurora (00:14):

And I am Juliet Aurora.

Steve Loates (00:16):

And we are your co-hosts. And before we introduce today’s special guest, why don’t we hear a few words from my wonderful co-host, that smarter woman herself, Juliet? How are you doing today, Juliet? You look fantastic, by the way. That light coming in from the window is just unbelievable.

Juliet Aurora (00:38):

Yeah. So our audience is probably not picking up on the sarcasm there from Steve, and probably a good thing it’s a podcast and not necessarily like a video on YouTube. Because the light is quite bright and it’s kind of washing out all my color. But hey, I am excellent. It’s sunny out. Even though it’s cold, it’s sunny, so I can’t complain at all. It’s a great day.

Steve Loates (01:03):

Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you very much, Juliet. And so, without further ado, let’s bring in our special guest. Now, when we were chatting before the show, I did pick up a slight accent there and I didn’t ask him where he was calling us from. So maybe he could tell us that when he introduces himself. So welcome very much, Vernon Brown, and thanks for joining us. Really appreciate it.

Vernon Brown (01:32):

You guys are legit. Thank you for having me here. I really do appreciate it.

Steve Loates (01:36):

Our pleasure. And so, where is that accent, Vernon?

Vernon Brown (01:40):

That is too funny, because I hear people say that often. I don’t know. I never realized I had an accent. I always ask people, “What does it sound like?” My mom’s Native American and my dad’s African American. I don’t know what kind of accent can be derived from that. Richmond, Virginia, maybe might be a little taste of a drawl, but I don’t think so.

Steve Loates (02:01):

Okay, okay. Well, we’ll go with that. Richmond, Virginia, okay. Well, before we get into it, if you could maybe just tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do, and who you help, that would be great?

Vernon Brown (02:15):

Yeah, excellent. Thank you. So my name is Vernon Brown. I’m the founder of What’s Your Happi? I’m a happiness and success coach and professional speaker, been so going into my seventh year now. And it’s about getting people to the next level, however they define it, using happiness. That’s the big thing. And when I say happiness, I’m not saying smiles or medication, I mean happiness as in energy.

Vernon Brown (02:37):

It’s an amazing thing that entrepreneurs, we wear ourselves out going after so many different things, right? And rightfully so. We wear many different hats. We have to learn so many different foundations to continue to excel, but it wears us out. And so for myself, I work with entrepreneurs, business owners, all on advancing their professional selves as well as manning their personal.

Vernon Brown (02:57):

As you continue to be more successful, you start bringing in … however you measure success. Obviously it’s financial, but you want to make sure that you have the right relationships in life. You want to make sure you have proper boundaries in life. The thing about being successful is your phone rings a little bit too much because people want to say, “Hey, how are you doing? You got five dollars?” Like, “We need to talk about putting some boundaries out there.” But it’s about overall growth of the entire person and everything that they’re working on. But yeah.

Steve Loates (03:27):

That’s awesome.

Juliet Aurora (03:28):

I love that. I really do. I think that we come across a lot of entrepreneurs, and the one resounding thing that we hear over and over and over again … and it really doesn’t seem to matter where in their journey they are. You hear it more often when they’re starting out and building their business, or in the middle of their business, but not necessarily as they’re trying to wind down. But it really is about being overwhelmed, balancing everything, feeling like something’s going to give. And I think that what everyone has experienced over the last eight months, it’s been tough on small business, and small business is entrepreneurs and it’s been even more so that they’ve had this extra layer of pressure put on them.

Juliet Aurora (04:14):

So I’m hoping and confident that the discussion today is going to help a lot of people in our audience today.

Steve Loates (04:22):


Vernon Brown (04:23):

I’m very confident that it will. Because there’s a lot of things that we all share collectively. And sure we talk about things with some level of transparency, but I think the step that gets missed is, what are some actionable things that we can do regularly that really seem minuscule in concept but they show up big in the result? And so those are the basic tenets that I really like to focus on and where I start everybody off at.

Steve Loates (04:49):


Juliet Aurora (04:50):

Excellent. And for a lot of people, they think that they have to do lots of big things in order for something to show up in their life. And so, I think it’s going to be really good for them to hear that it doesn’t have to be big things.

Steve Loates (05:04):

Yeah, yeah. No, for sure. I am curious, what made you start down on this path? What led you to becoming a coach, and why a life success coach?

Vernon Brown (05:20):

It’s funny, you’ll find out why I’m laughing in a minute. I never wanted to do this. Never, ever, ever in my life. I can literally say I stubbed my big toe and I said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” It was an accident, and I embrace it. I left a previous career, because I was an actor and a model in New York and traveled across the country. I’m not trying to say that to impress. I’m just trying to impress upon you I stopped doing that because I don’t like to be the center of attention. I don’t want the focus. I’m the guy that likes to be behind the camera. I’m a nerd. I don’t know if you can see it but there’s Spider-Man memorabilia here. I’m a nerd. I’m the guy who just … I don’t know, that’s just me. My son’s named after Wolverine. His name is Logan, right? It’s just like I’m nerd 3.0.

Vernon Brown (06:03):

But what happened was, after I got done with that career, I came back to Richmond and I said, “What do I want to do?” And I wanted to do something I was in more control. Like it’s great to travel and meet some really cool people and I had some really great experiences and I don’t take any of those back, but I wanted to do something that made more sense in terms of impact, in terms of confidence. There’s a lot of things that you can do to get that experience there, but you turn a magazine page and it’s over. You stop watching that commercial and I’m gone. I wanted like a legacy. That’s the thing I wanted. I thought it was pretty ambitious of me at the time. But I didn’t know what that looked like, and I got with a mentor and I talked to them and I said, “What do I do?” And being a good mentor, “What do you want to do?”

Vernon Brown (06:45):

And he knew about a lot of the struggles that I had in my past. Just poor, the stupid, ugly, fat one, being evicted, someone trying to kidnap me. He knew about the gory, bloody details that I had to go through to become who I am. Which we all have, right? We had to experience some sort of struggle that promoted us to grow. And he said that, “You should really consider life coaching.”

Vernon Brown (07:06):

And this is why I was laughing earlier. I’m like, “I can’t stand that term, life coach. Don’t call me a life coach.” I told him. I was like, “I’m not doing that. I don’t even like the name.” And him being a good mentor, he knew I didn’t know what it was. And he said, “Vernon, you need to do this.” And I said, “No, I’m not.” And him being a tough, curmudgeon man that I love to death, kept pushing, and I said, “Fine.” I relented. And I went and looked into it and said, “All right. You might have some smarts about you, old man.” That’s what I was thinking. And that’s our joke. It’s old bull, young bull story I always talk about with him.

Vernon Brown (07:41):

And I looked into it and then I came back to him with something that was bothering me and said, “Look, I’m not old enough to do this. I’m 30.” And he looked at me and said, “Vernon, you’ve lived many lives already.” And when he said that, I’m like, “God bless America, he’s got me.” And I decided, if I want to do this, I want to do something that’s different. I wanted to do something that would not just be catchy but something that I noticed there was a theme that always showed up when I was around. It wasn’t that it was me, necessarily, but just the way I would see the world, the way that people always felt more energetic and energized, so I said happiness coaching.

Vernon Brown (08:13):

And once I kind of understood and kind of implement how I wanted to show up, What’s Your Happi? just came to be, and it was seven years ago. And I thought I was pretty ballsy anyway, because who would start a business about happiness? Like, what is wrong with you? Everyone thought I was stupid. Who’s laughing now? You know.

Steve Loates (08:30):

No, absolutely. I mean, personally, I think it’s a great idea.

Vernon Brown (08:36):

Thank you.

Steve Loates (08:36):

Everybody wants to be happy. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who said, “I don’t want to be happy.”

Vernon Brown (08:46):


Steve Loates (08:46):

So there’s certainly, I think, a huge need out there. And I guess the interesting thing is is that everybody’s happy place or everybody’s happy is different. And I mean, what is your happy place may not be mine, may not be Juliet’s. So we all want this thing, whatever it is, but it’s not necessarily the same for any two people. And so that must also be very challenging. What do you find in the people that you work with, what are some of the biggest challenges or more common challenges they have in trying to find their happy place?

Vernon Brown (09:34):

This is a great question. I want to say, what you mentioned about happiness is the truth, and that’s why my practice is What’s Your Happi? Not your mom’s, not your dad’s, not your aunt’s, not your neighbor’s, it’s your happy. Your subjective brand of happiness. My happy is not the same as your happy, I can promise you. I love going to grocery stores and looking around the aisles and not buying one thing on the shelf, but that’s my happy. I love doing it and that’s why I love, whenever I travel, I’m like, “A need a hotel near a grocery store.”

Vernon Brown (10:00):

But I think the number one … in fact, I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt, thing that I see that when people are trying to find their happy is low energy. Low energy’s the number one thing out there. And just to describe it, it’s lack of concentration, focus, awareness. You become more critical, you become judgemental. It makes it harder for you to learn things quite as efficiently. A big thing is the isolation that can start to happen. You just don’t hit on the mark as often as you would like. And you stop becoming curious. You become a bit rigid in your thinking and approach.

Vernon Brown (10:35):

And often times when I see someone with low energy … And I want to make sure I say this, everybody with a heartbeat, anything with a heartbeat, is prone to low energy. It can happen in life. Remember your brain is not designed to keep you happy. It’s designed to keep you alive. You’re in charge of that. And it’s whenever I see someone or work with somebody, it’s not all the time but often enough I’ll see it and I can just tell, “We’ve got to get you curious again.” And when they’re trying to find their happy, the curiosity is the first step. “We’ve got to get you curious about what you used to do. We’ve got to get you curious about what other people are doing for your happy.”

Vernon Brown (11:08):

Because sometimes, the things that used to make you happy five years ago, 10 years ago, don’t make you happy now, and that’s okay, but you need to get curious about some other things you can go towards. I do want to say that, all right, you find out what’s your happy, your life is going to change? No. But you’re going to have more energy to invest in the things that you really want versus what you are accepting. And often times, we take what’s given to us by going after what we want.

Vernon Brown (11:31):

And so when you have more energy because you’re doing your happy, guess what happens? All of a sudden, things start making sense. The business starts making more money. You’re trying to figure out how. You can finally think. Most people are in a reactive state. They’re not thinking. You go up to someone and they say, “I don’t know what’s going on in my business.” And if you just asked them what would they like to have happen, they’d get quiet. Like, “Oh.” You’ve got to make people think. The power’s in the questions. I never tell you what to do, I just ask you the questions and get you to think.

Juliet Aurora (12:01):

Interesting. So I love that statement that, I guess, shifting your state of being gives you more energy to actually do all the things that you really want to do. And I don’t think that a lot of people would even put the two of those together. That they would think, “Well, I need to do more stuff. It has nothing to do with anything else. I just need to do more stuff.” So I think that’s an important distinction.

Vernon Brown (12:28):

You bring up such a great point. One of the things that I forgot to mention, and forgive me for that, is when energy’s low, we tend to use our chief function against us. And what smart, capable people do, we tend to do more of the stuff that’s not getting us any closer. “I need to work harder. I need to work harder. I need to work harder.”

Vernon Brown (12:45):

And what happens, you’re working harder but you’re not get any results, so now you’re frustrated. You’re working harder. You’re sleeping less. Some of your relationships might be … not to overdramatize it, suffering a little bit. You’re getting more frustrated. And now it’s taking you even longer to produce a result less than what you want. And so one of the big things with doing less is, “If you could only do three steps, what would you do here?” Most of the time, we make it more complicated than what we need it to be. And I let people know that, keep it simple, stupid. You don’t need to make it complicated.

Juliet Aurora (13:16):

So what would be somebody’s starting point if some of the things that you’ve said resonate with them and they’re listening to this and they’re going, “Okay, yeah, that’s me.” Where would you start them?

Vernon Brown (13:27):

The first thing I would ask them, and I ask everyone this, is, “What have you been doing for fun?” Because I’ll have someone come in … come in virtually, right? And they’ll come in and they’ll just start describing some of the things that’s going on. And this is not always a starting place. I want to make sure I say this. But most times, especially now during everything that’s going on, it is. Because we’re all living lives a little bit more constructs than what we would like.

Vernon Brown (13:49):

And I always ask people, “What have you been doing for fun?” And they might say nothing, they might say something, or get ready to say something, and I’ll say, “Hey, I need to qualify this. It can’t involve buying or spending. It can’t involve food or alcohol. And it only can involve yourself.” And then they look at me and they’re like, “Well, what’s left?” And I’m like, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

Vernon Brown (14:12):

I don’t ask that question ever to shame or demean, but it’s to let people know, fun is the first thing that goes. It’s the very thing to go whenever we start working with something, a life that we’re excited about, rightfully so. But fun is the first thing that goes, and it needs to be the first thing that stays.

Vernon Brown (14:26):

I work with an executive and the way I’m thinking of, she’s having just these troubles in her relationship, in her marriage, and the relationships that she’s having with some of her employees. And I just sat back and I’m listening to her and I say, “What have you been doing for fun?” She was furious. She got mad at me and she was 5’4″ in a small room meeting people in public. And I’m just sitting there and I’m 6’4″ and I’m just like watching her and I was like, “What have you been doing for fun?” And she rolled her eyes and she was like, “I can’t believe you’re asking me this question about what have I been doing for fun. I came here, [inaudible 00:14:55].” And I just looked at her. I said, “So?” And she got so mad at me. I remember that.

Vernon Brown (15:01):

I tell this story a few times when I go on stage, and she said, “I haven’t been doing anything for fun.” And what happened, she’s working 50, 60 hour weeks. You’re not working efficiently. You’re not. I can promise you, you’re not. If we started off … with this lady, we started off, she got 30 minutes to herself. You got three kids, you got a husband and you’re an executive. How much time are you really giving to yourself?

Vernon Brown (15:23):

I don’t know, this may be a cringe-worthy statement for some people who are hearing this, but women are notorious for not taking time for themselves because they’re taking care of children, right? And I say that because I’m home with them, I’m a stay-at-home dad, so it’s like I get it. I get it. But we started off with 30 minutes. And for some, she’s coming in, it’s like, “We need to make sure we build some time in.”

Vernon Brown (15:45):

Why is that important? It gives you time to think. It gives this thing time to stop thinking about what’s wrong. There’s so much negative around us. Remember, negativity sticks to you like VELCRO. The positive flows off like water. It’s like oil on water, it just goes. And you got to work hard at keeping that. I’m not telling you to clap your hands and stomp your feet and your life is going to get easier, but I’m telling you this. When I can get you to a place when I can get you to think. And especially with the questions I ask. I don’t ask questions that are leading. Again, I’m not going to tell you what to do. I might warn you of cautions, but then I would just start asking you some questions about what’s really going on. Walk me through what the day-to-day life looks like, and then I’ll start optimizing the schedule.

Vernon Brown (16:23):

That’s a big thing that I’m always doing. It’s like we’ve told ourselves, “I have to do this.” Why do you need to check your email 25 times in a day, in a hour? Why? Tell me what you’re looking for.” [inaudible 00:16:35], I get it, because especially at the beginning, when you first start out, you just want to be successful. Or even, wherever you are in your journey, you want to be successful.

Vernon Brown (16:41):

Or there’s just a lot of things that even I was doing that were taking my energy. I don’t need to do laundry every single day, but you find out that if you can really sit down and just … This isn’t everybody, but often times, is we just are busy for the sake of being busy.

Steve Loates (16:57):

Yeah. No, that’s very, very true. It’s one of, I think, the most difficult lessons not only for entrepreneurs to learn but I think a lot of adults who aren’t even entrepreneurs. Obviously we talk to entrepreneurs and the audience for our podcast is entrepreneurs, and they’re very susceptible to it because, when you start your own business, as you said early on, you’re wearing many different hats. You’re trying to do everything. You want it to succeed, et cetera, et cetera. But why is it such a challenge, right, for us to try to sit back and think? I mean, I love reading biographies. And in almost every biography you read, the person who it’s about talks about making sure they found time always for themselves, whether it was to think, whether it was to just meditate. Whatever it was. But something to just …

Steve Loates (18:10):

I guess I’m listening to that audiobook now, Think Like a Monk, which is great. And he talks about the monkey brain and the monk brain, and how we go crazy sometimes, and trying to shut that brain down to give ourselves some time is such a challenge. And I’m not sure, why do we get ourselves into that state? What do you think, Vernon? Why do we do that? And even while we’re doing it, we’re saying to ourselves, “No, I shouldn’t be like this.” Right?

Vernon Brown (18:55):

I’m going to take the initiative with this. When we’re talking about the instinctual brain, we got to appreciate it, I think, is one of the big things. First, we need that brain. It alerts us to danger. It alerts us to a threat. And a lot of why it’s driving us, “Go, go, go, go, go,” because it’s saying we need to survive.

Vernon Brown (19:13):

Now, a little bit of that is good. But what happens, many times, and myself included. I have to hit the brakes many times. Is when those instincts are starting to dominate. Now, what can happen, especially when we start getting ourselves worn out, we start using that almost to self-deprecate. Like, “I know this. I’m so stupid. I should know better. Why can’t I do this? I know better.” And for me, that’s like throwing paint at a wall. I mean, if you want, you are nailing jello to a tree. Great, try it, have fun. For me, it’s like I really do appreciate that I care about this, but I need this time to recover.

Vernon Brown (19:48):

But those instincts are powerful. They’re strong. You will not outwork them. And that’s why I don’t try to. For me, it’s the questions. How much space do you have for yourself? What would happen if you had more space? What does more space look like for you? And there are the questions I even say to myself, and even some of the strategies I always suggest people use to create that space, put a permanent meeting on your calendar to think. I think every single week. I take two hours and I think. I don’t worry. I don’t stress. I think.

Vernon Brown (20:18):

But we need those instincts to keep us alive, and when they start dominating, we’ve got to do the dance versus that push that it can do to us. I mean, they’re great things. It’s just in copious amounts, it can be detrimental.

Juliet Aurora (20:30):

Okay. So I need to ask you a question about this.

Vernon Brown (20:33):

Go on.

Juliet Aurora (20:34):

So if you have a time blocked in your calendar for two hours a week where … just for you to think? Not for you to do anything, plan anything?

Vernon Brown (20:45):

Yes, that’s right.

Juliet Aurora (20:46):

So how does that look? I can’t even imagine what that looks like. So how would that show up? Please share.

Vernon Brown (20:55):

Yeah, yeah. This is a question a lot of my clients ask. So with thinking, I think first, we’re entrepreneurs. We got in business because we thought we could be successful in it, right? So if a thought led you to get into action, why not take more time to think and figure out what other actions you can get into more strategically? That’s why I’m big on … I like strategic action. If I can sit back and the two hours might show up in 30 minute blocks. It might show up in an hour block.

Vernon Brown (21:24):

With everything that’s going on during this chaos kind of going on, like we were talking about earlier, I’ve had to adjust my schedule a little bit so now I get up at 4:30 just so I can make sure I get that in. Just because my son’s asleep, thank God, my son’s asleep and I can focus. But you’ve got to be flexible. But what you do in that time is … This morning, I got up at 3:30, I just couldn’t sleep, and I literally just … I’m not allowed to worry, and this takes practice. I make sure I want to say this. But I have topics that I’ll think about the day before, the night before. Kind of like maxims. I might say something like, “Am I really working smarter or harder? Where are the gaps here?” And I’ll say, “If I could only do this in three steps, what would I do?”

Vernon Brown (22:06):

Or I’ll just have these things, and I literally will look at something. And today was figuring out, am I being strategic as possible with how I’m partnering? And I just sat back and I’m like, “Who do I know?” And if I have some problem or something I’m working through, and I just [inaudible 00:22:23] that as the theme. And a big thing for me is, “Who do I know who’s seen this problem before that I can reach out to?” I mean, darn if I didn’t come it within 10 minutes. Literally, 10 minutes, something got solved. But had I just went with it and got up and went to the gym or exercised and just went to my role, the other 20 minutes I did come up with some other ideas. I went, “Oh, this could be something to think about. This could be something to think about.”

Vernon Brown (22:44):

But those 10 minutes saved me, so far, 2,000 dollars today. But it was 10 minutes. But you just have them themed and you keep them there. I make everybody have thinking time. You have to have thinking time. In some cases, depending on how busy clients are, we will get on the call and I’ll say, “All right, I’m going to step away. You take this time to think.” And I’ll still be in the room and I’ll sit back down. I’ll just sit there patiently so they can think. Because if you tell me that you can’t, we’re going to find a way that you can. Did that answer the question?

Juliet Aurora (23:16):

Absolutely. It’s quite a novel concept for me, anyways. I’m not sure about anyone else in our audience. I can’t imagine … I mean, when I look at my calendar, there’s no time blocked out for me to … My time in my calendar is for things that I have to do, not things that I have to think about. So I love that. I’m going to have to think about that one.

Vernon Brown (23:40):

Use your time to think about that. Just take 30 minutes. I always suggest start out small. What’s the fastest way to eat a elephant? One bite at a time. Take one bite, see what it feels like. And then, if you notice, and this is why I suggest themes but there’s many ways you can do this. You know once you start noticing, it’s kind of like meditation. To sit back in a room and maybe … I’m just kind of going off a generality here. With candles lit and essential oils on a mat, that’s not meditation for a lot of people, right? You’re like, “Hey, that doesn’t work for me.” You’ve got to find the flavor that works best for you.

Vernon Brown (24:15):

I meditate best when I’m lifting weights. I can zone out. I’m not thinking. I’m good. I come up with so many different ideas and just so many different things. But with the thinking time, if you notice that when you’re having it that you have a hard time focusing, put on music. Or you notice you start thinking about some of your stressors or worries, what are some things that you could have surrounding you that make you happy?

Vernon Brown (24:36):

I’ll have someone when they’re practicing thinking time with me and they were like, “Well, I just can’t focus.” And I will just ask them, “Look around my room. What do you see that makes you smile?” Typically my son’s stuff is lying around. I’ll have … I think it was called some fuzzy animal, a lot of Spider-Man stuff. And then they’ll just start looking and then they’ll just start daydreaming and they won’t even realize it, and they’re not thinking about what’s wrong.

Vernon Brown (24:56):

And then once I see that they’re in a particular place, I was just like, “So how could we approach this smarter?” Or I was like, “Who do you know who’s seen this before? If you were thinking like James Bond, how would you solve this problem?” Borrow someone else’s brain. So to give them an idea of how they can create that, or how you can create that.

Juliet Aurora (25:13):

Interesting. Because I think that most people, when they have a quiet moment to themselves, it really is filled with things that they worry about, not things that can move them forward. It’s replaying what’s going wrong, and maybe even beating themselves up about it because they can’t come up with the solutions. So I love that approach.

Vernon Brown (25:36):

I am the worst guitar player you’ll probably ever see in your life. I don’t know that though. I will reach back and I will just sit back and just play with the guitar and just think. Because if my hands are doing something, it’s kind of hard to think about what’s wrong. I’m just thinking. Just nice little distractions to help you out.

Steve Loates (25:52):

I mean, I think as important as the thinking time is also what must come before the thinking time. And that is the discipline to block the time and do the time for the thinking. Because every single one of us can put time in our calendar, “This is my thinking time.” But then you need the discipline to say to yourself, “Okay, this is my time for thinking and that is all I am going to do.” And I think that is something we all struggle with is discipline. We all want to do these things that we know are good for us. They know will help us. We know they will help improve maybe our lives. But still the discipline to actually do it and keep following through with it, it’s tough. It really is tough.

Vernon Brown (26:53):

It is. A lot of the things that I encourage clients to do, audiences to do, they’re simple things, but they’re not easy to implement. I do not take away from the fact that these things, they’re not easy. “Hey, go out there and schedule things that make you happy. Take some thinking time. Sit back and making sure you’re aligning yourself with strategic partners. Have a positive environment.” It sounds like, “Oh, that’s easy.” “Do it. Go do it.”

Vernon Brown (27:15):

And that’s when, I’m a coach, and I’m like, “So what did you accomplish this week? What got in the way? How are we going to do things differently? What problem could you solve in five minutes? All right, take care of that now.” They’re simple things.

Vernon Brown (27:29):

It goes back to having … I’m thinking of my son. It’s everything that we needed to be successful in life, practically everything we learned when we were kids and we need reminders of it. And what has happened is we live in such a national and international society, combined with so many different things going on, we’ve moved away from that, and now we just need to go back to almost the basic tenets of success and happiness. You look at a kid, they take the time to get curious. They take the time to take naps. People undervalue naps. By the way, your thinking time can be a nap. Because, guess what? You get recharged with a nap, right?

Steve Loates (28:04):


Vernon Brown (28:06):

We forget about our nutrition. You kind of put that by the wayside. We forget that we need to have some sort of structure matched with consistency, your consistency and your discipline. We forget that using kind language to ourselves … a kid doesn’t call themselves stupid for falling. What does a kid do? Gets up. He gets what he wants, he or she wants. We forget these things.

Steve Loates (28:27):

Yeah, no. That’s so true. So true.

Juliet Aurora (28:32):


Steve Loates (28:34):

That brings us, I think, is that a good segue, Juliet, do you think, to …

Juliet Aurora (28:40):

Yeah, I guess with … We could probably sit here and talk to you for hours, and I’m sure that our audience could as well. So before you get into, “This brings us to the next part of our podcast,” I would love for, Vernon, if you could share … I know that you are teaching a class called Own Your Happiness. If you could talk a little bit about that so that our audience could participate if they wanted to, and maybe it would help move them along their journey?

Vernon Brown (29:09):

Yeah, and thank you both for giving me the chance to talk about this. Back in … gosh, February, when we were all trying to make sense of everything that was going on, January and February, around that time, depending on where you were located geographically, I was looking, I’m like, “What is happening?” And I sat back and I never thought I was a teacher, but I read this book years ago. It was called What Color Is Your Parachute? And it said that I am teacher. And I said, “You are foolish.” I was like, “This book is ridiculous.” That’s always stuck with me.

Vernon Brown (29:41):

But what happened was, in March, I said, “Let me do this.” And I did an Own Your Happiness class, and it’s a six week class where we talk about happiness. We talk about boundaries. We talk about execution. I think many people are … They have the map. They have the treasure map. They’ve had it. They’re just not digging. They are not digging. I think what gets in the way is they know they need to dig, but they’re not quite sure. “Do I use a pickaxe, do I use a shovel?” But I talk about execution, I think I mentioned I talk about boundaries, I talk about what we can do with what we have.

Vernon Brown (30:13):

And it’s a fun class. It’s just about getting people more results. The class is always full. At one point it was, “I’ll just do 15,” and 15 got full quick. I mean, they even sold out in a day. And I’m like, “This is weird.” And then I started doing 20. I’m like, “Okay, this is weird.” Then I kept going like, “Okay, this is getting weirder.” But it’s a fun approach, and that’s what people aren’t talking about enough. It’s fun.

Vernon Brown (30:38):

Because with life, entrepreneurship and even people who aren’t entrepreneurs, you’ve got to remember problems don’t go away. They don’t. You make a whole lot of money and that’s going to be a whole lot of other problems you’ve got to think about. Because then you’re like who can you trust? And when you start making more money, all of a sudden your phone starts ringing a little bit more. Like, “Oh, hey, how are you doing? I got a bill. I was wondering if you can help me out.”

Vernon Brown (30:59):

I look at it and I make things fun because it’s like I’m putting a puzzle together. You intentionally buy a puzzle. I mean, I would think of this because me and my son are putting together a puzzle, a 500 piece puzzle. You know it’s going to frustrate you. You know you’re going to think that they didn’t put that one piece in there that you need, but you bought it, right? Because you’re going to have fun with it. And when you approach things like that, like it’s a puzzle, it starts like all of a sudden the weight of it starts becoming lighter. But that’s what the Own Your Happiness is about. It’s about teaching you how to dance with life.

Steve Loates (31:30):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Very good.

Juliet Aurora (31:32):


Steve Loates (31:32):

We will make sure that in the show notes, we have all of your contact information so that anyone who is interested in signing up, and everybody wants to be happy so you should sign up for that program.

Juliet Aurora (31:47):

And we could all definitely use some fun.

Vernon Brown (31:49):

Yes. Yes, we all need it.

Steve Loates (31:53):

Yeah. Especially right now. No, that is absolutely true. Well, that does bring us to that part of the show, Juliet. Thank you. And that is what we call the Smart Man, Smarter Woman version of James Lipton’s Actors Studio, where we have six questions that we ask every guest the same six questions. And so, if you’re ready, are you ready Vernon? We’ll get started.

Vernon Brown (32:20):

I love the questions. Let’s go.

Steve Loates (32:21):

I love that. Oh yeah. Okay. Question number one. What one word best defines an entrepreneur?

Vernon Brown (32:33):

The first word that came to my mind was creative. No, unrealistic.

Steve Loates (32:39):


Juliet Aurora (32:39):

Interesting. Okay.

Steve Loates (32:43):

What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

Vernon Brown (32:50):

Of course, I thought I had an answer. A detective.

Steve Loates (32:54):

Okay. What profession would you like never to attempt?

Vernon Brown (33:01):

Retail manager.

Juliet Aurora (33:04):

No hesitation there.

Vernon Brown (33:09):


Steve Loates (33:10):

What sound or noise do you love?

Vernon Brown (33:15):

The laughter that my son makes.

Steve Loates (33:19):

What book would you recommend every entrepreneur should read?

Vernon Brown (33:25):

The Alchemist.

Steve Loates (33:26):

Good choice. When your own entrepreneurial journey is complete, what do you hope your legacy is?

Vernon Brown (33:37):

Do it. Just do it. No one’s going to believe you. No one’s going to think it’s possible. I started a happiness coaching practice. Do you know how foolish everyone thought I was? But my legacy will be, do it.

Steve Loates (33:53):

Perfect. Perfect. And for our listeners who would like to connect with you, what is the best way for them to be able to do that?

Vernon Brown (34:02):

You can find me on LinkedIn at /whatsyourhappi. Facebook, /whatsyourhappi. To get me the fastest, it’s going to be to email me, and that vernon@whatsyourhappi.com, and it’s happy with an I. And before you ask why an I, it’s because you matter.

Steve Loates (34:18):

Very good. Very good. And all of that, your social links and your email, if that’s okay with you, we’ll put in the show notes?

Vernon Brown (34:27):

Absolutely. Please, and thank you.

Steve Loates (34:29):

Perfect. So before we conclude this episode, do you have any final thoughts, Vernon, you’d like to share with our audience?

Vernon Brown (34:38):

Yes. I was thinking about this, and the first phrase that comes to mind is something that I see often. And it’s not that people are in a bad place, but we’re all working on some change right now. We’re all working to maybe to refine a process, refine ourselves. Everyone’s changing. And I want everyone who’s hearing this, we must work hard not to become our struggle, especially right now. You cannot become your struggle. Whatever you’re experiencing is what you’re going through, it’s not who you are.

Vernon Brown (35:07):

I know some people have had some significant and tragic things happen, so let’s be real, because I’m not going to sit back here and just say … I could walk around with a smile and act like there aren’t some people suffering, but you cannot become your struggle. We must work very hard not to do that.

Steve Loates (35:21):

Yeah, that is great advice. Great advice. And what about you, Juliet?

Juliet Aurora (35:26):

Actually just to reinforcing the last statement, and I’ve heard this a lot, that the time that you are in right now does not define who you are. And it’s not your last decision that is going to determine your path, it’s your next decision.

Steve Loates (35:44):

Wow. I don’t even know how to follow you two guys. That was great advice from both of you. Well, I will … This episode’s words of wisdom are from Dennis Waitley, and he said, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, cannot be owned, cannot be earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” I thought that that was a pretty good quote for today.

Vernon Brown (36:28):

[crosstalk 00:36:28].

Steve Loates (36:28):

So, in closing, thank you very much to our guest, Vernon. Great job. Really enjoyed the show.

Vernon Brown (36:34):


Steve Loates (36:35):

Thank you to my awesome cohost Juliet. You know I can’t do this without you, so thank you again. But most importantly, thank you to you, our audience, for tuning in and giving us a listen. We sincerely hope you found some value here today, and I’m pretty sure you did. If you did, please subscribe. You can find us in all the normal places: iTunes, Spotify. Or visit the website, smartmansmarterwoman.com. So thank you again. Until next time, take good care of yourself and those that you love. Bye for now.

Song by Adam Vitovsky / CC BY 3.0

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Episode 39