Michael Brody-Waite – Turn to Your Trusted Network for Support


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By Andrew Stotz. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

At the age of 23, Michael Brody-Waite was a full-blown drug addict. Every day he drank a fifth of vodka and a twelve-pack of beer, he smoked two packs of cigarettes and more weed than any human should, and he did whatever other drugs he could get his hands on.

He had been kicked out of college, fired from his job, and evicted from his apartment. He had no money and no home. He was throwing up blood and believed he would be dead before his thirtieth birthday.

Then, on September 1, 2002, after running out of options and fearing death, he checked into rehab, entered recovery, and has been transforming himself every day since.

Michael’s TEDx Nashville YouTube video, Great Leaders Do What Drug Addicts Do, is the number one talk in TEDx Nashville’s history. It has been seen by 1,000,000+ people in 25+ countries and provides insight into his seventeen-year journey from addiction and near homelessness to successful entrepreneurship.

This talk sparked the #MaskFreeMovement that brought awareness to Michael’s Mask-Free Program, built on three principles inspired by his recovery, showing leaders how to achieve balance, reclaim energy, and thrive in work and life.

Michael is an acclaimed speaker, Inc. 500 entrepreneur, award-winning, three-time CEO, a leadership coach, and author of Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts: How to Lead Like Your Life Depends on It. His accomplishments include being named a Most Admired CEO, named to the Top 40 Under 40, and is recognized by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce as Healthcare Entrepreneur of the Year.

“If you’re suffering right now, the worst thing about you can be the best thing about you.”

Michael Brody-Waite

Worst investment ever

Michael had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And so, at the height of the US recession, he decided to max out his credit card, drain his 401k and blow his savings to start a company. The company Michael started was called Inquicker, a platform that lets patients schedule appointments online. At the time in the States, 99% of healthcare appointments were made over the phone.

Michael started the company with his partner a year after getting married. They were bootstrapped and became quite successful and ended up being an Inc 500 company. The company grew 20,000% in six years.

Hiding his weaknesses so well

As his success grew, Michael also became quite good at hiding his most significant weaknesses. He had gotten good at telling people that he was a recovering drug addict. But when he started being recognized as a successful CEO, the temptation to hide his weaknesses grew.

Michael had always told his story as the homeless drug addict who beat his addiction and becomes a huge success. However, he did not feel like the successful man the world saw him as. Michael was, in fact, struggling to be a great leader.

His world starts to crumble

In 2013 Michael got blindsided by two of his most important relationships. His business partner decided to take his equity away and tried to get him unseated as CEO of their company. At the same time, his marriage was in turmoil, and his wife wanted to file for divorce. While Michael was good at admitting that he was a drug addict, he was bad at admitting how much he was failing to navigate both of these issues.

Failing as a leader

With these two issues hanging over Michael’s head, his role as a leader suffered. Suddenly, this voracious leader who cared about his people was gone because he did not know how to face his team. Whenever he would be in business meetings, he would put this mask on, pretending that everything was okay because that is what the CEO of any 500 company does.

Trying to handle his issues

Michael had suffered for too long, so he decided to find a middle ground with his wife and partner. He signed a marital dissolution agreement that he and his wife had agreed on. Michael’s wife kept trying to take a large part of his equity in the company, but he successfully convinced her to let him buy her out to keep the company’s equity.

After settling things with his wife, Michael and his partner met with investment bankers to put the company up for sale. Michael asked one of the investment bankers what he thought the company was worth, and the number he got was 600%, higher than the value they had used in the marital dissolution agreement. Michael felt terrible that he had cheated his wife out of a lot of money even though he had done it unknowingly. He struggled with this, and eventually, he decided to tell her the truth, a decision that cost him a million dollars but left him at peace.

Making amends

Michael also found a way to make amends with his business partner, although they never got to do business together again. But by allowing himself to surrender to the outcomes in his life, Michael was able to talk with his partner, who apologized to him and let him keep his equity.

Lessons learned

Practice rigorous authenticity in your life

Own your life’s journey. It does not matter what you have gone through in life; as a leader, you need to stay true to who you are. This means that you have to always be authentic.

Surrender to the outcome

Most leaders do not know how to surrender to outcomes because they are responsible for outcomes. Leaders are always trying to drive outcomes and waste so much energy on things that they cannot control at the expense of the things they can. You, therefore, have to learn how to surrender to outcomes.

Learn how to do uncomfortable work

When you practice authenticity and learn how to surrender to outcomes, you will do uncomfortable work. Uncomfortable work is emotional. It involves making decisions and taking actions that you would rather avoid taking because of the emotions involved.

Andrew’s takeaways

Allow yourself to surrender and let go of your mistakes

Your past mistakes are probably causing you a lot of pain and holding you back from experiencing life in its fullness. You need to surrender and let go; otherwise, you will continue living in pain.

Do not be afraid to be authentic

Do not be afraid to be your authentic self because everybody else is hiding behind a mask. When you remove your mask and live authentically, you will find freedom.

Accept the painful moments in life

Pain is sometimes necessary, especially if you are going to do things that are emotionally consuming. If you do not accept pain, you will never live a full life or find happiness.

Actionable advice

This is for you who has something that is hurting you badly, and the hurt is holding you back. But you cannot share what is hurting you with anyone because you think it will make you less successful.

The truth is that you can get the relief of sharing your pain with the people you are scared to share it with. There’s a nine out of 10 chance that your pain will inspire the person you share it with, and they are going to feel connected to you because they see the strength that it took to share your pain. Then they are going to help you solve your problem.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Michael’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to market his services. He has figured out what his product-market fit is, and all he has to do is literally go out there and say, “Hey, I think this will help you.” That’s what Michael plans to do in 2021.

Parting words

“If you are suffering from addiction, reach out. I would love to hear from you.”

Michael Brody-Waite


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