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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Mar 15, 2018

Ben Newman is a highly regarded performance coach, international speaker, and best-selling author whose clients include Fortune 500 companies around the world, business executives, sales organizations and professional athletes in the NFL, PGA, NBA, MLB and NCAA. Ben’s authentic, powerful, and engaging presentations have become nationally recognized, and recently he joined Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney to kickoff Jon Gordon’s Power of Positive Summit that included Tony Robbins, Michael Hyatt, Lewis Howes, Tamika Catchings, Andy Andrews and other great speakers from around the world.
Ben serves as the Performance Coach for the record setting, five-straight Division I National Football Champion North Dakota State Bison, and he is also a contributor on

Fight the Good Fight (with Mary Beshear). 2009. Mill City Press, Inc.
Own Your Success. 2012. Wiley.
Leave Your Legacy. 2015. Greenleaf Book Group Press.


Ben: Thanks for having me on the program, but I feel like your intro is a little unfair. You highlighted all of the stuff you want people to hear, but I believe it’s the adversity and challenges in times I’ve been knocked down—and the coaches and mentors who have picked me back up—that have given me this opportunity.
Dean: That’s an interesting perspective. It’s easy to flip through a family album of happy times we took photographs of, but it’s often the things we don’t take photos of which shape who we are...
Ben: I always say, “The manner in which we choose to respond to adversity and challenge is what determines the story we all write.”

Dean: In your work with business and sports clients you often take the role of performance coach. What type of performance are you working on?
Ben: Before we can talk about performance, we have to understand the WHY—their motivation, purpose and drivers, as well as where they want to go. Initial conversations always cover those elements, which lead to an understanding of the daily disciplines and choices which drive performance.

Dean: It’s attractive to throw out a big goal and say, “I want to do [X],“ but it’s really more about small things, right?
Ben: Absolutely. It has to start with a big vision. I always encourage people to not protect themselves when thinking of the big vision. Sometimes we naturally don’t want a big goal which allows for fear and doubt to creep in. People sometimes want the easy way. Goals that stretch your comfort level allow you to figure out what you’re truly made of. Think of a marathon as an example—have you ever heard of someone showing up to a marathon having done no training whatsoever, and still having an unbelievable marathon experience?
Dean: It might have happened...but I’ve never heard of it.
Ben: Right. The occasional person might be able to do it but very, very few. If someone had a goal to run a marathon—especially if you’re not a runner—you’re going to Google “marathon training,“ and then you’re going to have names like Hal Higdon Pop up (he is a marathon trainer). And Hal will tell you what to do every single day on a training calendar leading up to a race, and if you want to finish the race you’re probably choose to execute those daily disciplines. It’s the same approach when it comes to goals in life or business.

Dean: It seems like with something such as a marathon it’s pretty straightforward—that if I want to do this there’s already a laid-out program to follow on a daily basis. Where do people go off the rails when it comes to things they want to accomplish in their businesses?
Ben: I think what tends to happen is that as adults we face a lot of adversity, and we are used to hearing “no” so often that we build these skyscrapers in our imagination of all these terrible things that are happening—which leads to doubt and uncertainty—which holds us back. Sometimes we simply choose to not take action.
I learned what it takes to overcome fears and doubts by watching my mother battle a rare muscle disease called Amyloidosis. Mom was diagnosed in 1983—I was around five years old. She battled this disease and kept a positive attitude. She wrote in her journal, “Beat the statistics. Beat the odds. Live with a disease that is chronic and fatal. Believe in yourself. Combat anything. Purpose in life…“ And my mother helped me understand what it means to have a great, positive perspective when she was told she would have two to four years to live, and she was only the second woman under 40 years old they’d ever seen or heard of having this disease.
I’m not the only one who has a story. Everyone has been through challenges and adversity. We’ve been through far worse than what we sometimes term to be “difficult” in our lives. My mother passed away 11 days before my eighth birthday. Yet 11 days before my birthday, she passed the pen of her life and that journal on to my brother and me to keep writing her story. Her fight, perseverance and resilience have taught me how to live and how to fight, and that’s a perspective I like to share with others—to connect to a perspective of something you’ve been through that’s tougher, to re-frame, and to stay focused on positive solutions.

Dean: That’s a powerful story; I appreciate your sharing it. What a legacy she was able to leave...and we’ll talk about legacy later. When you look at ten businesses on the left and ten businesses on the right with equal opportunities and talent, and in five years the ones on the left have all failed while the ten on the right are thriving—what is the thing you end up seeing over and over that separates them, if it’s not talent?
Ben: The highest performers, I’ve found, are not seduced by success, and they don’t allow their feelings to dictate how they show up. There is a standard or a process that they live up to every day. Many people battle what they do when success happens. Let’s take a sales person or a company that just comes off of their best quarter. For some reason—and maybe it’s subconscious—because things went so well in that last quarter, they want to celebrate for an extended period of time. That leads to inactivity, which leads to their results not being the same for the next quarter. That’s what I call being seduced by success.
Whereas the highest performers—regardless of what they sold yesterday or anticipate selling tomorrow—realize all they have to do is go to work every day. Live to that standard every day, and the future will take care of itself.
Dean: Are you saying we shouldn’t celebrate our successes?
Ben: No, I’m saying if you want future celebrations you should continue to work. You can celebrate success and continue to work, but far too often people celebrate and stop doing the work which caused the celebration. I’m not saying don’t take time off either. Take scheduled time off—go on vacations, spend more time with your family than you think you have the ability to spend because you will then become more intentional in your daily work. I’m saying if you’re going to celebrate a win, don’t do it as a replacement for work. Do it separately, and continue working as usual otherwise.

Dean: You’ve met people and dealt with businesses that have struggled for 20 or 30 years, and then they make a change that gives them an improved outcome. What’s the fundamental change that most often is responsible?
Ben: Typically it’s a deeper-rooted connection to a reason or purpose—some defining moment that makes them change. Someone could finally get sick and tired of being sick-and-tired; someone could go through a very challenging personal experience which shifts their perspective, like I did with my mother. When that happens, people start working differently...and when work changes, the results change.
Jerry Rice and I shared the stage together a couple of years ago in Las Vegas. Before we took the stage, Jerry looked at me and said, “You know what I’ve never understood? How could somebody not give 100% when it’s 100% their choice?“ It was one of the simplest but most profound statements I’ve ever heard, from one of the greatest football players of all time. It comes down to connecting with a purpose and doing the work.

Dean: I want to spend a little time talking about the North Dakota State team. When I watched interviews and press conferences after that last championship, a theme kept coming up: Living a legacy. Hearing that phrase in those environments—that isn’t an accident, is it?
Ben: It puts tears in my eyes hearing you say that. Even though I’m a pretty big guy myself and I deal with a locker room full of big football players, it’s the relationships that mean the most in that program. Other people see six championships in seven years, the championship rings and the trophies—but what I see when I look at one of my national championship rings is far different from what others see. I see Carson Wentz’s eyes. I am a better human being because of my relationship with Carson Wentz—he makes me more of a faithful person. I see Ben LeCompte’s eyes—a four-time All-American, five-time National Champion who invited my entire family to his wedding last year. I see the relationships. It is a blessing to be part of that family.
Dean: What’s really made them different?
Ben: When I mentioned earlier that consistency, that commitment to go to work every day, or Jerry Rice’s quote...I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a program where the individuals choose to do the work every single day. I’m up there during the off-season and during the season, and these kids just do what they say they’re gonna do.

Dean: As we wrap up, what do you really want people to take away?
Ben: I’d want them to connect deeper to their purpose. Far too often we may try to articulate a purpose that’s actually a purpose for our boss or somebody else, and I think at the moment we decide, “Here’s what’s important to me” or “Here’s a legacy that I want to live,” discover our own deep-rooted purpose and how we are wired—and when we start living and making decisions based on that purpose—our future changes and our life changes.
My greatest life lesson I learned from my mother: It’s not how long you live, it’s how you choose to live your life. Leave your legacy. Do it one day at a time. Make the choices that are going to impact others.


March is Amyloidosis Awareness Month. To help the Amyloidosis Foundation raise awareness and support amyloidosis research, visit


We always welcome your feedback at Modern Farm Business Podcast. Do you have suggestions for future episodes, or questions on something we’ve already covered? Drop Dean a line at He’ll look at each email personally and respond as quickly as possible. Thanks for listening! See you next week!