The Power of Decision: Rich Roll on How to Unleash the Best Version of Yourself

Editor’s Note: The following transcript is from Rich Roll’s HYPERGROWTH 2018 presentation. It has been edited and condensed for clarity. Ready for HYPERGROWTH 2019? You can preorder tickets here.

In his talk at HYPERGROWTH, Rich touched on:

  • His epic transformation from alcoholic to unhappy, unhealthy corporate lawyer to vegan ultra-marathoner.
  • Through all this transformation, Rich came to understand many things, but in particular that anyone has the capacity to change.
  • In fact, Rich believes we’re all standing on top of mountains of untapped potential and it’s about will power and the decision to unleash your best self. In the following post, Rich explains how.

Read on for more great content from Rich Roll. You can also download Rich’s deck from HYPERGROWTH here.

Hey, everybody. Before I start, can every one just stand up and take a stretch. Take a deep breath. Let’s reset. Good. Raise your hands. Awesome. Feel a little gratitude for being here today. I’m super excited to be with you guys to talk about subjects that I care very deeply about, health and fitness of course. But more importantly, the incredible inherent power that we all have to take better control of not just our health, but our lives, to unleash the very best, most authentic versions of ourselves on the world. And I really think it’s events like this that help extend that conversation.

And I believe in change. I believe in everybody’s inherent ability to change, to grow. And it all begins with a decision. So that’s the lens through which I want to talk about change with you guys today. And we’re going to start with a couple decisions that I’ve made over the years, some good, some not so good. The first bad decision, obviously, this penchant for stonewashed denim jacket, which is not good. It was like 1987 though. My story really begins with alcohol, for better or worse. And for me, my relationship with alcohol is something that started out like it does for a lot of people, it was fun. I had a good time in college with drinking.

Rich Roll_Denim

But that thing that began as fun soon turned into a need for me. And that need became dark, very dark. My drinking career was neither sexy nor romantic. It was not very rock and roll. It was actually pretty sad and pathetic. And I’m not going to bore you today with the details of my career as a professional alcoholic, but I would like to give you a brief snapshot of what it looked like for me near the end. I became an around the clock drinker. I would start the day with a vodka tonic in the shower. I would have a tall boy between my legs as I drove to work. I would sneak drinks throughout the day. I would hide my empties. My evenings always ended up in blackouts, coming to in strange locations, more incomprehensibly demoralizing situations than I care to remember that generally involve cops, DUIs, car accidents, not knowing where my car was, and once in awhile, a jail cell.

Now, this was not the plan for my life.

I started out as somebody with a great deal of promise. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was one of the top competitive swimmers in my area. I graduated top of my class. I got into every college I applied to. Got into Harvard, I got into Princeton. I ended up going to Stanford where I competed on two NCAA division one championship swimming squads. My point being that when I was a young person, the world truly was my oyster. But addiction does not discriminate. Over time, like death by a thousand cuts, alcoholism killed my aspirations. It broke my instincts, and it left me a shell of a human being.

At the end, by the time I was 31 years old, I was unemployable. I was alienated from my friends and my family. I was teetering on homelessness and truly, utterly alone in the world. Until one day, I came to out of a blackout, didn’t feel that much different than the countless times that this had occurred before. I was shaking, confused, trying to figure out where I was, nauseous, terrified, only to realize what was dawning upon me is that I found myself in rehab, in a treatment center. And this treatment center became my home for the next 100 days. And as the cobwebs started to clear, as I detoxed out of my stupor, it started to dawn on me the gravity of my situation.

And I began to open up to the counselors about how I was actually living. For the very first time, I was able to be honest with another human being. And I’ll never forget this counselor, he comes up to me and he says, “Rich, you have a case of alcoholism that we typically only see in 65 year old lifelong drinkers. And if you don’t sort this out, if you don’t get this right, you are going to die.”

And I was able to hear that. For so long, I was a prisoner of my own denial. And of course I knew for a long time that I was an alcoholic, and I kept trying to solve this problem through willpower, through self-will, which in my twisted brain was my super power. That was what had fueled me through any success that I had achieved as a young person.

But the more I applied my self-will, the more the hole grew deeper, and the more desperate I became. And this counselor said, “You have to let go of your self-will. This is not about that. This is not a willpower scenario. You have to let go. You have to surrender. You have to truly come to a place where you understand and embrace the fact that you are powerless, not just over drugs, and not just over alcohol, but you are powerless about almost everything in life.”

Now this was anathema to me for the reasons I previously stated. It took me a very long time to truly understand this rather ephemeral idea.

But over time, I have come to a place of truly understanding this. And in that rehab, after I truly understood this would be the solution – surrender, powerlessness, letting go of my ideas about how I was going to fix this problem, letting go of this idea that I was a smart guy and understanding that my best thinking had me in a mental institution. It was only when I could snap that denial and embrace life on life’s terms that I could see the path forward and that I could execute on this first important decision in my life, which was to stop drinking, to get sober, and to stay sober.

That decision changed my life.

It changed the trajectory of my life. I would not be up on this stage today. I would not be alive today. And as I made my way back into the world, in the wake of this rehab experience, I became very intent on building the strongest foundation of sobriety I possibly could, and repairing all the wreckage that I had created as a result of my drinking. It was a decade long experience repairing all of that wreckage, but I was successful in that regard. So by the time I was 39 years old, I had all the good shit. I was a successful entertainment lawyer, on the partnership track at a prestigious firm. I had the nice car in the driveway. I had met my wife. We were building this incredible home. From the outside looking in, it looked like my life was great.

All the trappings of the American dream that had been the driving force in my life, all those boxes were checked. But I had overlooked a couple key things along the way. The first thing that I overlooked was my physical wellbeing. Physically, I was a wreck. By 39, I was about 50 pounds overweight. I was paunchy, just looked like a lawyer who’s working too many hours. Overweight, out of shape, workaholic, a classic couch potato sliding into middle age. I was also emotionally even worse. I was depressed, discontent, disillusioned with this all-consuming career that I didn’t feel like I even consciously chose for myself, suffocating on the promise of this American dream that I felt in my heart, maybe even on an unconscious level that was failing to deliver on its implicit guarantee, which was happiness.

So not only was I unhappy, I had no idea what happiness meant.

In the same way that I didn’t feel like I ever consciously chose my career, I don’t think I ever paused once to ask myself what would make me happy. Now, all of this was congealing and it all came to a crisis point late one night, shortly before my 40th birthday when I come home late from work and I made my way up a simple flight of stairs to go to sleep. Halfway up that flight of stairs, I had to pause. I was winded, I was out of breath, I had tightness in my chest. I had sweat on my brow, buckled over, and really fear in my heart that I was on the precipice of having a heart attack. Heart disease runs in my family, my mother would always say, “You got to watch what you eat. You got to take care of yourself.” Blah, blah, blah when you’re a young person. It’s sort of in one ear and out the other.

But it was this perfect moment in time where my ill health collided with this existential crisis, all of these questions about how I was living my life. All of this confusion came to this point where I reached a scenario in which I had once again, much like that moment in rehab, another moment in time in which I was ready to make a decision. Before I get to that decision, we need to talk about how I got to this place. Well, I got to this place because I was living my life like most Americans, sedentary, stressed, sleep-deprived, and subsisting on what I like to call the window diet. Does anybody know what the window diet is? My favorite diet. Nobody?

All right, the window diet is when you drive your car up to a fine dining establishment and you roll the window down and they hand you food.

Rich Roll_WindowDiet

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I loved this stuff. This is how I ate for the better part of my adolescence and adult life. These are habits that I learned early and often when I was a competitive swimmer and calories were king. And they were habits that were very hard to break in the wake of my athletic career. And these foods really became my go-to comfort in the absence of the drugs and the alcohol that I could no longer use. I used food to numb the pain of my daily grind, my emotional lack of well-being.

And the word addiction gets thrown around very cavalierly, “I’m a chocoholic. I’m a shopaholic.” But I can tell you that food addiction is a very real thing. And in my case, both before and after my struggles with drugs and alcohol, food is and always has been my drug of choice. And unfortunately, this problem is not uncommon. As I would later learn, illnesses related to nutrition have claimed more lives than in all the world wars combined. When you look at the statistics, it’s actually mind-boggling. Obesity, we’re at a crisis point. I created this slide a year ago. Just recently, a new study came out that shows that 80% of adults, and one third of all kids in the United States meet the clinical definition of overweight or obese.

Rich Roll_Health

And more Americans live with extreme obesity than with breast cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and HIV combined. Think about that for a minute. Meanwhile, heart disease is still the number one killer in America. It claims one out of every three lives. And they’re predicting that by 2030, 50% of Americans are going to be diabetic or pre-diabetic. These numbers are insane when you think about it. At the same time, it’s bankrupting our economy. 75% of all healthcare costs go directly to treating chronic lifestyle illness. And what really breaks my heart, but what also gives me some hope, is this amazing statistic. 80 to 90% of these conditions are entirely preventable, and in many cases, reversible through some pretty simple diet and lifestyle decisions.

Rich Roll_HealthcareCosts

Now, me back on that staircase, I didn’t know any of this at the time. I was just wheezing, trying to figure out how I was going to not die. And so back to this second decision that I made. The second decision, this was just an excuse to show a picture of my daughter, Jaya, because she’s cute.

Rich Roll_Jaya

The second decision was just as bold and impactful on my life as the first one. It involved overhauling my relationship with food and lifestyle top to bottom. I don’t have enough time to go into the details of this. It was not linear. It was not overnight. But it involved trying a lot of different diets, a lot of different lifestyle practices on this search to restore my vitality. And over a six month period, I was not very successful in doing this.

I tried a whole bunch of things. I would always lapse back into bad habits or whatever I was trying wasn’t really working for me. And I was at the end of my rope, was ready to throw up my arms and just give up and say, “Well maybe at 40 you’re supposed to feel lousy.” And I realized there was one thing left that I had not yet tried because it sounded so horrible, and that was eating nothing but plants, a 100% plant based diet. Nothing with a mother. Nothing with a face. Are there any vegans here? There are some vegans here, good for you guys. Well, I can tell you when I first tiptoed around this, I was not very excited about this. I went ahead and tried it, but I think I did that only so I could check the box and say, “I did it and I tried everything,” so I could go back to eating cheeseburgers guilt free.

But what happened was rather surprising in my case.

And actually, a little bit dismaying, because within a week of eating nothing but plants, I had actually achieved what I was searching for. I had this resurgence in vitality, this incredible surge in energy. And I felt amazing for the first time in as long as I could remember, since I was like a teenager. And I was like, “Really? It’s going to be just plants? Like this is going to be my life now? I’m going to crawl around in the yard and chew grass…” It sounded terrible, but it was undeniable that this was working for me.

And I’m not here to preach a vegan diet to anybody. I’m just here to share my own personal experience. Plants are what make my body run the best. They have for the last 11, 12 years. And if I can leave you with any one thing, it’s this very simple edict uttered a very long time ago, it’s solving this equation between food and health. Hippocrates said it millennia ago, “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Rich Roll_FoodasMedicine

It is so true. My experience is that food really is medicine. And in my case, food didn’t just restore my health, it completely transformed my life. Within a couple weeks of adopting what I later found out was called a whole food, plant based diet, I was bouncing off the walls, I was driving my wife insane. She was like, “Please go outside and leave me alone.”

So I dusted off an old pair of running shoes that were in my closet. My wife bought me a bike for my 40th birthday. I went back to the pool for the first time in a very long time. And I started to move my body, which is something I hadn’t done since I was in college. Now, I had no designs or desire to return to being a competitive athlete, that was the furthest thing from my mind. My goals were casual and modest. I just wanted to lose that gut around the midsection. I wanted to be able to enjoy my kids at their energy level. That was it. With each week, the pounds melted away pretty effortlessly. I started to feel like I was connected to my physical self once again.

But the biggest thing that I started to discover was that I was reconnecting with this lost part of myself that had brought me so much joy as a young person. When we’re kids, we play, we have fun, we go to the pool, we run around, we get dirty, we jump in the creek. Then we’re adults and we’re told, “Eh, you can’t do that anymore.” I made a decision that I just wanted to reconnect with those very simple, primal things that made me happy, that put a smile on my face. And I was following this thread each week, getting a little bit stronger, pushing myself a little bit more. And I had this crazy experience about three or four months into this chrysalis experiment that I was on.

I went out for a trail run on a trail near my house in Los Angeles. It was a weekday. I just was going to run for 45 minutes, maybe an hour if I felt good. And I had this experience that I think the cool kids call a flow state if I’m not mistaken where everything just felt amazing. I felt like I could just go forever. Athletes are familiar with this, creative types are familiar with this where time drips away and you’re so integrated with yourself that you’re not even consciously aware of your environment. I was having this experience. Each mile I felt stronger than the one before. And I just kept going. Kept going and going. And when I finished that run, I realized I’d run 24 miles. I’d never done anything like that in my life. I had no idea that my body was capable of that kind of feat.

Rich Roll_24Miles

It was nothing short of revelatory for me. And in the wake of that, I thought, “Well, either I’ve just unlocked some dormant gene that I didn’t know that I had, or there’s something about just eating plants that are working for me in some strange way.” And it was around this time that my friends were coming up to me and they’d say, “Rich, wow, you look good. You lost weight. You have a smile on your face. So nice to see.” They would want to know about how my skin cleared up, and I can tell you, when your guy friends start asking you about your skin, things are getting fucking weird.

They’d say, “What are you doing? What are you doing?” And I said, “I’m just exercising. I’m like eating plants.” And that look of eager anticipation would quickly fade into ashen disappointment. And then, morph into grave, grave concern. And I had a lot of conversations that went something like this. You tell someone you’re going to McDonald’s, that’s cool. Go for a smoke, right on, dude. Let’s go get drunk, sweet. If you tell somebody you’re going vegan, you are a baby killer. This is what I’ve concluded. It’s funny, because when I was eating at McDonald’s every day, nobody said anything to me. Nobody ever said anything like, “Hey, maybe knock off the cheeseburgers.”

Rich Roll_StickFigureFriends

Now, suddenly all my friends overnight had graduate degrees in nutrition and were very concerned, gravely concerned about my well-being. They were not shy about sharing their thoughts with me. And look, I get it. I get it. My whole life I was taught beef is what’s for dinner. Milk does a body good. And yet, here I was, suddenly, in a very short period of time, feeling better and performing better in as long as I could remember without the very foods I’d been told my whole life are essential for health, and of course crucial, if you want to perform as an athlete. So my whole worldview was suddenly upside down.

And after abusing myself with drugs and alcohol and the window diet and all these horrible lifestyle habits and too many reruns of Law & Order and you name it, in a few months, I had been reborn. Literally reborn. And I was struck by the incredible resilience of the human body, mind, and spirit to heal and to adapt when treated properly. This was like an epiphany for me, and it’s an epiphany that led to a question, and it’s a question that became soon an obsession for me. If I could change so drastically in such a short period of time, what other areas of my life have I been blind to? In other words, what am I capable of?

What am I truly capable of if I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone.

I had to know the answer to this. I had to explore this question. And this question led to this journey of discovery for myself. It’s what ultimately lured me into this world of ultra-endurance sports, which in many ways I think is fair to say is the ultimate, or can be the ultimate test of human resiliency. This incredible template to explore the outer limits of not just my physical capabilities, but my mental, emotional, and spiritual capabilities. And so I don’t know what came over me, but in 2009 I decided that I was going to take a crack at this race called The Ultra Man World Championships.

Now, to sort of contextualize all of this, I had never completed a half Iron Man. I’d never done an Iron Man. I had no business mucking around with this. Does everybody know what an Iron Man is here? For those of you who don’t know, an Iron Man, widely considered the ultimate test of human endurance, is a very long triathlon, which over the course of one day, you swim 2.4 miles, you ride your bike 112 miles, and then you run a marathon, all in one day. Insane. Super long. Well, this race called Ultra Man is actually a little bit more than twice that distance. It’s a three day stage race, which over the course of the three days, you can see the stages broken down there, you basically circumnavigate the entire big island of Hawaii.

Rich Roll_UltraMan

Do you know why they call it the big island? Because it’s super fucking big. This I learned firsthand. I was like, when I first read about this race, I was like, “People actually volunteer for this? This is insane.” I couldn’t believe it, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. All my stick figure friends, those pesky people, bugging me. They were like, “This is impossible. What are doing? You’re chasing a fool’s errand. Are you drinking again? You should call your sponsor.” And my friends had a point. I mean, I was a 43 year old corporate lawyer. I had no business participating in something like this. And I had my doubts as well.

It’s funny, when your friends are always chattering, saying you shouldn’t or you can’t, you start to believe that. But within two years of that staircase incident to this race, and fueled on nothing but plants, I was able to go from this chubby, overworked, window diet addicted guy, to this dude.

Rich Roll_Transformation

Fitter, stronger, faster than I had ever been in my whole life, even when I was swimming at Stanford. Thank you. I’ll tell you, when you need a photograph like this, you get like this great photographer, he knows exactly where to put the lights to make it look like super epic with all the shadows and all that kind of thing.

He’s like, “Okay, exhale all the air out of your lungs.” People want to talk about the physique, but it was never about the physique for me. It was what was going on on the inside. Like my internal compass was being calibrated and I was slowly becoming this person that I was always meant to be. But I wasn’t delusional. My goal going into this race was singular. Do not die. That was it. And what happened was extraordinary. Instead of dying, I actually shocked myself and sort of surprised the endurance community by leading the race by a full 10 minutes after the first day stage. A bike crash on the second day took me out of podium contention, but I was still, nonetheless, able to work my way to being the fastest American, in six in the world that year on a swollen knee that called into question whether I even should have run that 52 mile leg on the last day.

So needless to say, this is a hallmark occasion, the highlight of my athletic career. And it brings me back to that original question, what am I truly capable of? And had I sufficiently answered that question for myself? And I had to say that I still thought that I could do more, that I had more in me to express. And it was around this time, 2010, that my friend, Jason Lester, who’s an amazing individual and athlete, somebody I trained with for these races in the past. He called me up and he proposed a challenge so ludicrous that if successful, it just might redefine the limits of voluntary human endurance. It was a feat that most said was impossible. He called it Epic 5, and it involved doing five Iron Mans on five Hawaiian islands in five days.

And I was like, “I’m in.” Now, this is where all my stick figure friends went batshit, losing their minds. “What are you doing, Rich? This is irresponsible. It’s risky. You have kids. What are you smoking?” What I was smoking was this idea of pushing the boundaries of what humans are capable of. When I thought about the history of human endurance, voluntary human endurance, and thought about all of the incredible adventures, things that human beings have accomplished, it seemed like everything had been done. Every peak has been scaled. Every ocean crossed. We’ve gone to the moon. Three guys even ran across the Sahara Desert. Benoît Lecomte is getting ready to swim across the Pacific Ocean. My friend Ross Egdley is in the midst of circumnavigating Great Britain by swim.

Every crazy adventure seems like it’s been done, and yet here was a challenge that seemingly was so obvious it was amazing no one had ever tried it before. And I just knew that we had to give it a crack. And more importantly, I believed that we could do it. And there’s so many amazing stories that came out of this experience. I don’t have time to go into all of them, but I’m going to tell you one, the most meaningful story that came out of this for me. This is Jason and I. We are on the island of Maui in the midst of our fourth consecutive Iron Man on this adventure. And this is where the wheels were really falling off the wagon for me.

Rich Roll_ConsecutiveIronMan

We had just finished the bike leg on this, 112 miles on the bike. And it was the most excruciating, painful experience of my life. I was literally actually sobbing the last five miles I was in such pain. The saddle sores were so bad I couldn’t sit on my saddle anymore. I was dehydrated. I was completely depleted. I was sleep deprived beyond none. The thing about this adventure is that we had to finish these Iron Mans by a certain time every day to make the last flight off the island to get to the next island. Then we had to eat, get our gear. We had a couple volunteers helping us, but we were doing a lot of this alone. And so we were only getting like two or three hours of sleep every single night.

Day four caught up to me. When I finished that bike leg, I dropped my bike, I was done. I walked into a shower, I just let the water roll over me. And I realized that there was no physical possibility that I was going to be able to run a marathon that night. It wasn’t a matter of will, willpower. It wasn’t a matter of determination. It was a physical impossibility. I knew Jason felt the same. He actually looks a little bit worse than me in this photo. But one of us is going to have to say it out loud. Who’s going to tell who, “I’m going back to the hotel, I’m calling this thing off?” We’re done. As I’m sitting here on the bumper of this car, it’s in a parking lot parked right off the beach where we had started that Iron Man that morning. There were a couple volunteers around us, I’m looking at them.

And I’m just about to say, “Bro, I’m going back to the hotel. It was a good run, but it’s over.” And right at this very moment, from the far side walks this woman. And she steps underneath the street lamp, a halogen street lamp. And I notice that she was wearing a teal tank top, leathery skin, she’d been in the sun too much. A little hunched over and a brown paper bag. And she’s surveying our rag tag group of people, trying to figure out, “What are these people doing at the beach parking lot at 10:00 o’clock at night?” And she kind of saunters over, staggering a little bit, clearly drunk, looks us back and forth, and for some reason she locks eyes with me.

She walks straight up to me like this and looks down at me with the bottle and goes, “Hey man, do you want to party?” “Party? Do I want to party? No, I don’t want to party. I do not want to party.” When you’re that fried, depleted, exhausted, even the slightest external distraction is completely overwhelming. I was like, “Just please get out of my line of sight, out of my view.” I said, “No, I don’t want to party.” She goes, “Oh, okay.” She starts sauntering off into the darkness and I thought, “Thank you.” And then another thought entered my mind.

And I realized, “You know what? That woman, she’s not that different than me. Had I made a couple decisions differently in my life, I could very well be living her life. I identify with what she’s doing. I’m one of the few people that understands why she’s making the decisions that she’s making.” And I realized in that moment, or I suppose I should say I choose to believe that she wasn’t just some random drunk person walking up to me, but that she was in fact an angel who was sent down to remind me of how far I had come. Without making that first decision to get sober, I wouldn’t be in this situation. Without making the second decision to reformulate my relationship with food and lifestyle, I wouldn’t be sitting on that bumper.

I was able to reflect on my life twice saved.

And this trajectory, this journey that I’d been on from that lost soul, sleeping on a bare mattress in a shitty apartment, who ended up in rehab, hoping to die and unable to live, to the grips of this unbelievable, fantastic adventure. I thought about my stick figure friends and how they all told me I was chasing a fool’s errand. I thought about another friend of mine, who’s been a tremendous inspiration to me, his name is David Goggins, he’s a Navy SEAL, incredible human being, unbelievably inspiring, who decided to honor his fallen brethren by tackling the 10 most difficult endurance challenges in the world.

He was successful in that regard. And he said something that’s always with me, which is, “When you think you’re done, when you think you can’t go one step further, you’ve actually only tapped into about 40% of what you’re truly capable of.” As I thought about all of these things swirling in my head, I actually began to lose time. I almost went into this state, where I don’t quite know what actually happened in the moments following. All I do know is that when I came out of it, Jason and I were walking. That walk turned into a jog. That jog turned into a run. And somehow, in defiance of the laws of physics, we completed that marathon that night, just before dawn broke. Something I thought was absolutely impossible when I was at the peak of my athletic conditioning.

Absolutely physically impossible. We got some sleep, we went to the big island and we completed that fifth and final Iron Man in the Epic 5 challenge, and all I remember about that was that it was almost like an afterthought, like a celebration of the four that came before it. With a good night’s sleep, I felt better on that fifth one than I did on the first one. And I realized once again just how incredibly resilient the human body, mind, and spirit can be. It was like my body said, “Oh, now I understand what you’re trying to do. I thought you were trying to kill me. Why didn’t you tell me?”

When the dust settled, Jason and I had done something that nobody else had done in history. And by 44, I had exceeded my wildest expectations of what I was capable of as an athlete. But my greatest accomplishments are not athletic. My greatest accomplishments are that I healed myself in body, mind, and spirit. And that I fulfilled this promise to live a vital life. But I realized that there was one more decision that I needed to make. This experience, these experiences that I’ve had in ultra-endurance left me with this desire to continue to evolve, to continue to grow, and to share the experiences that I’ve had to provoke positive change in others, to live more expressed, authentic, meaningful lives.

Because the truth is, we all need all of you to be more of who you really are, and who you can be. So the third decision that I made was a decision to return the gift, to devote my life, my ongoing growth, to serving others, to giving back the gifts given to me. So in 2012, I wrote a book. It’s my story, it’s called Finding Ultra. And that book started a conversation, a conversation about the innate ability that we all have to change, the power of the decision, the innate potential that we all have to unlock and unleash a better, more authentic version of ourselves.

And in order to continue the conversation in the wake of that book, in 2012, I started A podcast. It’s a podcast on the theme of self-actualization where I did my best, and continue to do my best to convene with the brightest, most thought provoking people that I can find, to have meaningful, long form conversations. And I can tell you, in 2012, when I started a podcast, it was not cool to have a podcast. Everybody’s got a podcast now, not a lot of podcasts in 2012. But from the moment that I began it, I just loved it because it was about letting go of my story and inviting other people’s stories in.

I got to share the experience and the knowledge of so many amazing people for the betterment of others. And this decision that I made to make my life about service was really about abandoning the cravings of the ego, letting go of this traditional idea of the American dream that, as I said previously, had been the driving force in my life for so long, to orient my life going forward around serving others, helping people, that is when my life truly began to expand. In fact, it exploded, expanded exponentially in the wake of this decision.

And ultimately, this service-minded approach to everything that I do delivered on that one thing that I had been searching for all along, from the very first drink, to the diploma, to the job, to the car, to the house, which is a life fueled by purpose.

A fulfilling life of meaning and happiness.

So today, after six and a half years of doing this podcast, it reaches people all over the world. We’ve eclipsed over 40 million downloads to date. I want to close with this. I’ve done these crazy things, done some noteworthy, interesting things. But I’m truly nothing special. I really am not.

I’m just an ordinary guy who happened to do a couple interesting things. And if my story stands for anything, it’s that we’re all far more capable than we allow ourselves to believe. People say that people don’t change, that people can’t change. And it’s just BS. We’re all dancing atop mountains of unlimited, untapped reservoirs of human potential. My story begins with a decision, and yours does too. My decisions were forged through pain, but yours need not be. The important thing is that you identify, you recognize that thing within yourself that requires, that demands change. You all know what it is. And you take that leap into the unknown to address it. And I promise you, if you do this, your world will expand exponentially. The universe will conspire to support you. And you will meet the best version of yourself along the way. Thank you.

Rich Roll_CTA

You can connect with Rich Roll on LinkedIn here. Want more? You can download Rich’s HYPERGROWTH deck here.