Walking into Your Life with Steven Kuhn
This week on Taste For Tenacity, we hear from decorated Army veteran, speaker, and consultant Steven Kuhn. Steven opens up about his time readjusting to civilian life, his mental health struggles, and HIT (honesty, integrity, and transparency). Steven walks us through trusting your intuition and walking into our lives.
0:00 Just a quick note, we do have some intense conversations about mental health in this week’s show. This is Taste for Tenacity show number 33.
0:10 Welcome to the show that answers the question that plague students and professionals alike. What should I do with my life? Determine your greatness. Follow me to the pathway of more success. Each week we interview entrepreneurs, invest in things that you understand professionals, it’s just believing in yourself, and your abilities, and artists that have followed their pool can be skin was the envelope. This is what we need from Ben Trela and multimedia. This is Taste For Tenacity.
0:41 What is going on everybody? My name is Ben Trela. And this is Taste for Tenacity. This week on the show, we hear from Steven Kuhn. Stephen is a decorated US Army combat veteran. He’s now a speaker, author and consultant that helps individuals improve their lives through the application of honesty, integrity and transparency. Steven focuses on amplifying your humble alpha in any domain by investing in relational capital. Steven’s book and program are both called the Humble Alpha Leader and are set to be released in January. Steven, welcome to the show.
1:21 What an intro. Thanks so much, Ben. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
1:24 Yeah, thanks for giving me something to talk about. It’s great.
1:27 Now, I’m curious. You said you’re in Hungary? Are you a big like, European sports fan at all?
1:33 I used to be, you know, I used to be on the management team of one of the one of the most famous soccer players in the world. I’ve worked with other sports, sports personalities, as well as pretty well, you know, into that field for a while, but Formula One, that kind of stuff. Yeah, so I was pretty active. I wasn’t I was never the front line. But I worked with the management teams and coach them and help them set up programs for the younger sports people. The younger sports players so they don’t go array. You know, like these young kids. They have a million dollar contract 18 years old. Next thing you know, they’re running through the city, doing stupid things and getting a bad name for themselves and hurting their career. So I sort of set up programs to help them find the way.
2:11 To prevent them from being a kid in a candy shop.
2:14 Awesome. So let’s let’s dive into it and sort of wind back the clock here. So let’s say you’re around age 18 you’re wrapping up high school you finished high school. What did that point in your life look like? What were you thinking that you would want to do after high school or after your primary education?
2:33 Well, fairly soon in my life I knew that I had to leave as soon as I could. So I had the classic American nightmare you know so moved around a bunch. Couple fathers. Couple of abusive stepfathers. You know, the, just that typical nightmare that you have, and I was I had no self-belief, no pride, no nothing. I was just, I was a total doofus. I tried everything.
3:00 I tried every sport. I sucked at every sport. I mean, every I was the guy who lost every game. So it’s like Kuhn, whatever you do, don’t do this. And that’s exactly what I would do. It just like, I will mess it up. You know? Like, that makes sense, you know, and I would mess it up every time. So I knew that I had to get out of there. I didn’t want to stay there. I actually had a, I was Graphics, Photography Student of the Year, believe it or not. And I had a partial scholarship as well. Nope, I’m going in the army. I’m leaving. I’m not staying here because I knew even at that young age, although I was 240 pounds at the time.
3:35 That young age I knew I could never develop into anything that I want to do that I knew I could be with everybody looking at me. And they knew who I was for last 18 years, but I didn’t know who I was. Their projection onto me, made me be who they thought I was. And that was just I knew that when I was 19. I’m like, I’m out of here, man.
3:53 So you need to kind of throw yourself into a new situation where those identities that were forced on you and that that person that you kind of became, was sort of thrown out the window.
4:04 Completely thrown out– it was completely thrown until you remember I failed third grade, I have a twin brother. So from the third grade on up until 12th grade, we were in different grades. So I was always the dumb one. Right. And I, you know, just on top of that, and then the other stuff and just a whole bunch of never had a girlfriend, you know? Yeah, this that whole, the whole world it just comes tumbling down.
4:26 And I knew that when I joined the army, it’ll be so tough. It’ll be such a change that I have to completely let go of who I am. And start new. And that’s exactly what happened.
4:35 Okay, so now you’re, you’re you’re 19 when you went into the army?
4:39 Right? That’s why because I failed third grade. So yeah.
4:43 Okay, so now you’re 19 years old, you’re thrown into this whole new world. What was it like trying to figure out who you were as a person?
4:53 Well, you know, first I went there cocky as hell of course, you know, because that’s what people who feel bad about themselves do. They’re very cocky.
5:00 So when they have very low self-pride, self-belief, they’re very cocky to try to cover it up. It’s like that balance that we try to find. When you don’t have balance in life your ego will takes over to try to fill the void. And, you know, I showed up there and long hair. I had the mall, it was the 80s you know, 1986 so the mall I was hanging in the back there, it was a disco mall. It wasn’t, you know, its horrible. And I showed up in the in the drill sergeant said, didn’t you know, you’re coming to boot camp son, you know, and I said, No, I was drafted. That was my first meeting with the slap to the side of the head. So I learned real quick not not to be a smart, smart ass. But I also realized this as soon as I sat down and that razor touched my head and started shaving my hair off. I was like, yeah, this is a new me. I’m done. I am done being that idiot. And I’ll tell you, it didn’t take long I was the odd run at the front of the formations. I was like one of the slowest in the beginning. I’d run at the front of the formation. I’d be vomiting on myself, but I knew if I fell back. And no one saw me. I just stopped running. Yeah, so I forced myself to run to the front and force myself to do push and be harder than anything I could ever imagine I literally vomiting and shaking and passing out sometimes, because I just wouldn’t give up. And I said, I know I can be that person that is someone amazing.
6:18 So you forced yourself into a situation of discomfort so that you could become that person that you knew was sort of lurking inside.
6:25 Right. And I tell you, whatever they gave me it was never enough. I mean, that was the one key point that broke, let’s say the final, the final one to the final. But one of the final strings to my past was we went to an obstacle course. And on the obstacle course you have to climb walls, ropes down under, you know, all that stuff. And there was a wall that you come to that’s facing you, leaning at you about 15 degrees, about seven or eight feet high with no rope, and I’m like, Well, how the hell are you supposed to be over this thing? Everyone else was getting over it. I couldn’t get over to save my life. Yeah, and, you know, I’m thinking, I’m stupid. I’m not fit enough or whatever. And the drill sergeant just threw me in the mud and put his boot in the back of my neck and started calling me every name in the book. I mean like, like nasty shit. Sorry. And I just pushed his foot aside jumped up and I literally without an effort jumped over that wall and I land on the other side it was like angels came.
7:22 Suddenly I was like, holy shit, it was me the whole time. I can’t believe it was me. How can this be? My whole life it was me and my whole life up to that point, every football game every every baseball game every wrestling match every every basketball game that I really royally screwed up, flashed before my eyes as if that was only me. That was it’s my mind. That was it. But from that point on, I knew I could do anything I wanted. So 18 years old man. 19 years old.
7:47 19 years old game totally changes. How long did you serve? How long were you active in the military?
7:54 I spent eight years in military after six years and went to Desert Storm fight in Iraq. I was awarded the bronze star which is really weird for the for the for Desert Storm, not many of those were awarded.
8:04 I had some really, you know, life changing experiences there as well and one of them was to be humble. The most humble moment in my life was when I was after the ceasefire, the ground war with telecon and Republican guards, the telecon Medina republican cards outside of Basra with the Iraqi army, we had a ceasefire and we had to set up a checkpoint.
8:45 And so everyone got slaughtered, the city got burned down. And so we had a checkpoint there and we were taking care of prisoners of war and enemy combatants and the wounded as much as we could, but we could not keep or care for anyone who is not an enemy combat.
9:02 And that my friend is the hardest thing you ever have to do. When you see hundreds of people wounded women and children, you can’t help but there was one girl. I was sitting there to checkpoint and I see this little pink dot towards me. And it’s a little girl walking with her hands out like she’s flying, and there’s a woman beside her. And as they get closer, I could see that she was burned from the head down or from the neck down. And her clothes were burned into her skin. And this pink dress was covering her so they must have found it somewhere. Yeah. And so she came to me.
9:31 I send her to the medics and bandaged her up and as she was coming out, I waved her over. And I got to my knee and like, you know.
9:38 I have to face this girl. Like I have to face this. What we’re doing here, this is a part of what whether I did it or not myself is not the point. We’re here. This is what we’re doing have to face that moment, you know, and I had to face her where she was and pick her up where she was. So I got down on my knee went eye to eye with her and I pulled out the only thing I had and that was butterscotch candy. I opened up butterscotch candy out and I gave it to her and she smiled.
10:07 This little girl, every time I talk about it, it’s like, wow, this little girl who lost everything, burnt from head to toe, smiles for a piece of candy. And, you know, I feel like in that moment, I gave her a view past what was in front of her.
10:24 And for me too like, it’s not going to end here. There’s more. You know, compassion is really here in this world. Don’t lose that thought. I feel like that’s what happened in that moment for both of us, you know.
10:34 Yeah. You saw to each other humanity.
10:36 Yeah. So to this day, I just want to meet her so bad. You know, she must be like 35 or 38.
10:42 Yeah. So you spent eight years, six years over, over that time period. And then let’s, let’s say fast forward to the end of that eight years. Did you ever serve in like a leadership role, or where it sort of your leadership insights in particular come from?
11:01 Well for me leadership begins with yourself and I think once you’re disciplined and you do the things that you expect others to do, then leadership is almost natural. There’s a problem with a lot of leaders as they learn on the outside and don’t do anything on the inside. That’s what our program the Humble Alpha Leaders all about, is that it begins on the inside. And I think that if I look back at the military, a lot of that is internal. You know, you take care of yourself or you make your bed every single day no matter what, you know, if a Saturday doesn’t matter, your wall locker looks good. Your you know, your, all of your stuff on your desk is dressed right dress, all these things are all you know, taken care of. Before you even step out of the room before you’re done. You get up at four o’clock morning, you do PT Personal Training, or physical training, you come back clean your room. I mean, it’s just the way it is. And that gives you the self — that gives you belief in others, they go well he’s doing it so I can do it. And that’s just a little a small part of it. Once you get into a corporate world, which I did get into once you get into other leadership roles. That becomes less viewable because people can’t see you at home, they don’t see what you do at home. But here’s the thing, when you are a leader you’re never off. So when you’re a leader, and you go to a company party and you act like an idiot, well, you’re not a leader anymore. And people see that and I’ll never forget it, no matter how you meant it or what you should expect leaders or leaders or leaders. I had a first sergeant, tell me one time I was at a wedding. And it was all officers like 200 officers, and I was the only non-officer there, the only one invited. And he said, the first sergeant who was like the top guy, he said, true leaders never, ever take their uniforms off. You always stay in uniform, because every single officer had their shirt open, tie out suspenders on, you know, drunk and everything. And him and I, as the only NCO is there. We’re still strapped and looking straight. He goes, that’s the difference. It just stuck with me all these years later. That was 1987.
12:50 Wow. So now let’s say you’re winding down your time with the army. What was going through your mind? Did you have something you want to work on next door? Where you sort of just trying to plot and figure out okay, what do I want?
13:05 Well, I had a really hard time after the war, I came back to guild housing where I was stationed in Germany, they shut it down. Then I got sent to Berlin brigade in Berlin, Germany, and I, you know, I love that place. And they shut that down too and so they sent me to Schweinfurt I’m like, I’m done. I’m done with this and Schweinfurt, they were shutting down as well. So it was like, not going to do this. I requested in the early out, which I got, at the time, they were letting people go because they were shrinking the army. And I just I knew I was gonna stay in Europe. I didn’t know what I was going to do or anything. I just knew. I’m staying in Europe because I didn’t want to go home with my tail between my legs and go back to where I was like, I’m just starting here, man. Like, I’m just, there’s so many things that you gotta realize those eight years I spent in Europe.
14:00 Yeah, but different countries, you know. And you know, remember too most of the time when I was there, the wall was still up. So it was still east west. So it was a very exciting time in history to be living in Europe. And when I got out, it was 1993, just after the wall came down. So it was exciting to drive through the autoban, from Germany to Frankfurt or whatever, and see the Russian soldiers still there. And it was, it was amazing. I’m staying here. This is history. I decided to stay. I went back to Berlin.
14:27 I had absolutely nothing to do that. You know, my German wasn’t so good. So I decided to get a job in a nightclub, which I had already started before I got out.
14:38 And it wasn’t that it was the techno clubs. It was one of the famous underground techno clubs in Berlin. Very famous, actually. Madonna was there. Prince was there. It was amazing. It was underground. It was it was illegal. But it was tolerated. And within a couple weeks, were making like it was like 150,000 a weekend. It was ridiculous. Yeah. It wasn’t my money all of course.
15:00 Everybody’s money when we have staff of like 100 people. That was crazy.
15:04 Because it was huge was like an underground bunker partly and there was like a huge kitchen with these vats where the DJ would sit into the vats. It was crazy.
15:10 That’s nuts.
15:11 Yeah, but it was the original like DJ Webspam, Dr. Motte, DJ Tomek all these guys are famous these days they were all house DJ. So that’s how I got into the club scene in Berlin. And I stepped out of that got into security. And that’s where I had my real sort of challenge in life way to Berlin and had to figure out what was gonna do for real.
15:35 Yeah, so now you’re in Berlin you’re at night club number one. Were you just a bouncer at that point?
15:42 Oh no, I was running the whole thing I was–
15:44 Oh really?
15:44 Yeah, we had seven bars.
15:47 Oh wow.
15:48 In this like multi-level underground whatever. I just went there to collect the money. Go upstair was putting in cash box. I collect the money when the stairs putting cash box. I didn’t drink and didn’t smoke none of that stuff. And I just do I just collected the money and brought it upstairs and then I counted it all took my share and went home.
16:04 So now you’re running the show which add an underground bunker nightclub sounds just ridiculous.
16:11 It was it was you know we had it was it was not for the faint hearted put it that way. Ecstasy was everywhere, you know everyone was high on something. You know, it’s it’s the it’s the old raves and I’m talking like you know 1992, 93 raves where people are half naked and the girls are just wearing brawls if that and it’s just dark. There’s no lights at all. It’s it’s just this whole music and lasers and shit. It’s and 3000 people on the dance floor. I mean, that’s how big it was. It was just crazy.
16:43 That’s massive.
16:44 Yeah, and we only had like we only had like two kinds of beers, plastic cups and shooters and plastic cups. That was all we had and I just could not get around to the bars quick enough to collect the money.
16:56 Okay, so now you’re working at this nightclub and you said next you got into security. So what was the change what made you want to change into something new and why security in particular?
17:09 Well we got shut down because the love parade I don’t know if you ever heard of the love parade it’s the rave parade in Germany. It started back with Dr. Motte okay. And the first one was like 300 people and they were doing rave of rave parade down the street in Berlin will end up being a million people would come to Berlin every year for this love parade. Wow, the largest open air concert sort of thing that travels through a city in any city in the world. And it landed and I ended at our club. Well, that was too much for the city to sort of cover up because we are illegal and so they shut us down because all the neighbors were upset and stuff so they shut us down. And I ended up getting security job at the airport and at the Hard Rock Cafe as a doorman. I started selling insurance. Thats my three jobs at the same time. And I never addressed my PTSD, my combat PTSD. I never addressed the depression that I had. I never addressed a few feelings of loss. The feelings of survival guilt, you know, I never addressed it. And what happened was people would trigger me constantly at the door and I was fighting every single day like fist fighting every single day. And I got to be really well known, unfortunately, are notorious, I guess you could say for being the guy that no one could mess with. So I’d have everybody coming to me to mess with me every time they can Harry or pawns OVA and you know, whatever German names they’re going to come and just try to mess with me, you know, and just Oh, you’re the big guy, you know, and I was always the one that was trying to defuse but I would snap you know. And one time I snapped and I don’t know what happened I woke up naked in a park. And it’s okay in Germany because you can be naked anywhere. It’s not a big deal as strange as it is. And I grabbed a borrowed a towel from someone beside me and gave my address and so I can get back to home or whatever. And took the bus home. Total no money or nothing and naked I need to get home they let me on – Two or three weeks I have no idea where I was, who I was, what I was doing nothing. I was completely gone. Like a reboot almost. And then I start over. So that’s when I went into business for myself again, and started my own cocktail bar none other than another than a nightclub. Then I got into the health club industry, it just exploded from there. So that was all within four years by the way.
19:29 Wow. It was it was pretty action packed to see a–
19:34 Now you said you hadn’t really addressed the depression you were dealing with and sort of the fallout from spending eight years away. How did you start to sort of break down those feelings and really start to move past them after that four year hiatus almost.
19:52 Right. Well.
19:56 I guess the first time I really had to face it was when I had to when I woke up naked in the park, but I didn’t, I sort of pushed it away. And I just said, Okay, I need to go to a different place where I’m not triggered. So I started doing that, and that’s why I got my own place.
20:21 And within a week, I lost my wife, she left me because I was traveling back to Chicago and Spain and overwork. He was working for the for the big big corporation in London. And my money, my job, lost everything in a Saturn like, you know, here we go again. What the hell? Whats going on? You know, it’s, it’s, I gotta figure something out. So I wrote a book.
20:49 And the book came out. I wrote it in two weeks came out two weeks later, it was two weeks after that was the best seller in Germany. And it was about a guy me and the feelings of shame and guilt and fear going into the Gulf War during the Gulf War after the Gulf War and how I didn’t deal with anything and how it was affecting my life. And it went nuts over here. It really went nuts over to this day, it’s a best seller. And the Americans wouldn’t pick it up because it came out the day the war started in 2003. Where everyone was pro war. This book was anti war, pro America, American values. And so that that that helped me a lot. That was my first step. I remember going on TV and this is where HIT was born. Honesty, integrity, and transparency. I went on TV. The day after the war started the day after my book came out, and I was on tv live, I don’t know 15, 20, 30 million people live on German TV with American ambassador, the British ambassador, Sir Peter Ustinov, all these famous people. And everyone’s looking at me. Because I’m the only war guy, a combat veteran there who speaks German who’s an American. And everyone looked at me, like Mr. Kuhn are you against this war?
22:00 They wanted to hear from an American. And my head’s like, okay, Am I What should I say? Should I say what I think they want to hear, should I protect my heritage? And, and I said, No stop. I have to be 100% honest with everyone around me or I cannot expect honesty from them. This is this is the beginning of the rest of my life. And so I boom, I am absolutely against this war, you know, and it was like, Wow, it was like an American said it, you know, like a big deal. Yeah. And that set me onto a trajectory of one year long, TV interviews, live book readings all over the country, Switzerland, Austria, any German speaking country. And by that time, because I was reading, I was speaking almost perfect German, and I still do to this day. So I mean, my company’s still in Germany, my own company registration, but I live in Hungary most of the time. And yeah, it’s it changed my life forever. And it it forced me to tell my story for real. But yet it wasn’t over my friend. It’s still suffering still wasn’t over you think by the end of 2004, when I was done with doing all the TV, and then all that kind of stuff, that I’d be okay. You know, because I went through all that, but it proved to be different so.
23:11 So you really started just by airing it out, essentially, in telling all to an extent of what you were dealing with, so that you could have that honest and open conversation when the time came.
23:24 And I had to say it loud and clear to as many people as possible, like to the public, so I’d be forced to face it. Otherwise, why should I face it? Right? So I gotta ask really hard questions on live TV, and it was a fantastic.
23:37 Wow. No, no better way to get to know yourself in front of 20 to 30 million people.
23:44 But it was every day was like, every day, sometimes four or five times a day on different channels. It’s crazy. Yeah.
23:50 So now you mentioned you mentioned hit in there. Could you start to number one, unpack what it is and then walk us through where it came from. And how you kind of put those pieces together?
24:02 Okay, so you know, honesty, integrity, transparency, some call me the Hitman, I have a podcast called The Hit Show. And the definition is honesty is being true to who you are and how you live. Transparency is communicating your honesty for anyone to observe. And integrity is the result of your ongoing reputation, which is formed through honesty and transparency. So you know, when you’re when you’re living by hit you have the clarity of who you aren’t exactly what you want in life. You also live in incredibly happy life where everyone seems to help you every step of the way, because you’re always elevating them you’re always, like you said before to beginning investing in relational capital. Of course, you naturally attract others who live by hit, making life literally super easy and enjoyable. And you know, when you operate under hit, you get an authentic connection, significance and true happiness and some people might say I don’t need significance. Well, significance is one of the six essential human needs and whether or not you know you needed you need it. So it turns a scarcity mindset into abundant mindset. And it’s it’s it’s being able to give a value in that very moment. And when somebody asked me, what does it mean? Like, what’s the outcome of hit? And for me hit, it’s very simple. It’s me showing up wholly and fully for the person in front of me with no other intention besides adding value. No preconceived notions, no, you know, no cookie cutter solutions, and no, I want to wait till you’re done so I could talk, none of that. I’m literally there for you 100% with no intention besides adding value. So we’ve turned that into a sort of workshop called creating space. So you create the space around you that’s completely neutral, except for the positivity of you adding value. People step into that, and suddenly they realize their own greatness. And once we put this down on paper, this has turned even my personal consulting, which my one on one consulting, which I do online, which is sort of higher end, even changed that because now I can teach my clients to step into that space, and we come up with ideas for their businesses that you cannot imagine. And they’re like, Wow, that’s amazing. Like, yeah, we could only do this only because we create a space and allow each other step into that, and that creates that third entity called the mastermind, or the mastermind, that’s where that word comes from. It comes from two minds coming together, creating the third entity, the mastermind. And that’s the magic of hit right there. And I can guarantee you once you learn how to create space, invest in relational capital, understand our meaning of quality of life and life enterprise. And then you will learn how to create space. Your life is almost effortless, and I don’t want to sound cheesy, but here I am an American 52 years old, living in Hungary in a village of 2000 people in the middle of nowhere, beautiful house two kids amazing wife. Yeah, and I earn more than most people earn. And I do it from here. How? Because I attract people. People pay to come here to spend time with me. They pay to stay come here for a week. I call it coaching by osmosis. It will help them grow their business, help them grow themselves will travel go to Austria, will travel a little bit, go to lake and I visit my clients. I have clients all over here. Visit my clients. Yeah, but still video but they know me because, you know, sometimes I’ll go to Austria, I’ll visit four or five of them. But I’ll bring one of my clients with me to come to visit. And I’ll let them create space with all three of us and we come up with new ideas, because you see, every new mind that steps into the mastermind is more of a creative creativity boost for the entire situation. So it’s not a joke when I when I say that hit is the basis what took me from being a guy who, you know, was always a winner, but never knew where it went afterwards. Like never, like I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen later. Well now because I know who I am. And I know my purpose. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going because I know I’m gonna get there. Yeah, I just know that if I do what I do, the way I do it according to hit, you know, all the core principles that we have that I’m going to get there anyway and then I’m going to put in the proper path and it’s it makes your life so effortless. You don’t worry about tomorrow ever. Never worry about tomorrow. Can you imagine? It’s incredible. Yeah.
27:59 So really hit is a way to create a space and not necessarily a safe space but a welcoming space where, where you can step into and really just from the ground up, share ideas in, in a welcoming fashion. So, you know, creating that mastermind creating that new type of collaboration in a space where you’re welcome to do so.
28:23 Creating space comes after hit. So, like, for instance, honesty begins internally, and then it moves its way out into the external world. And honestly, of course, is vital to growth without honesty, you’ll you’ll you’ll never grow. And when we’re dishonest, we literally put blinders on and only see what we want to see. And you know, honestly, not not only expressing what you say, but with your actions, as well. I mean, that’s why precise language is very important. And when we lie, our body gets used to it, our mind gets used to it. So we end up telling ourselves that our lives are truths, and you’ll never get to where you want to go when you’re that way. And I don’t mean people lie on purpose. They do little things to protect other people. Protect themselves. And next thing you know, it’s all you do is lie. And it’s just, you know, people lie, to avoid suffering to get what they want. You know, we want others to think good of us, well of us and they want to protect other people’s feelings and stuff again. But being honest, we can really get to the core of the issue and solve them permanently. You’re not solving the symptom, but rather the root cause and only then will you be able to truly live authentically and get what you want in life. There’s that word authenticity. The authenticity comes from knowing who you are, knowing your purpose, having that certainty, because then you don’t bow to anybody. No one can have any garbage on you, no one going to have any dirt on you. I mean, I’m on the internet every day, every day, right? So I just did my 300th episode of my morning purge. My daily purge today. So I get up, and I you know, I do whatever I do, and I go outside and just purge what’s on my mind. And no one. They can say whatever they want, but everything about me. I’ve already said it. You know, So I’m just honest, transparent, there it is. So I’m free. You understand me? I’m free as a man, as a human being, as a person, as a spiritual being or whatever it is, you want to call me. And that attracts the most amazing people in my life. My partner Lane Belone. He’s 31 years old. I’m 52. This guy is a special forces Green Beret veteran, did 12 years of military, the most spiritual guy you’ll ever meet. That is no nonsense. If you know what I mean? Yeah, so, you know, high performance mindset, that whole Special Forces, lingo that whole thing goes, but when you look at him, you never know he’s a, you know, he could take you out 15 different ways before you can look, you know, and he’s just at cool, alpha confidence, you know, and it’s so the hit attracted him to me. He loved the hit principles. He loves it. He just came to one of our retreats in Peru. We have a retreat every year in Peru. We work with sacred medicine, plant medicine, Wusco in San Pedro. We work with industry leaders, different industries, different leaders, and finding their identity, purpose and certainty. So yeah, it’s it’s a way to attract amazing things to your life. I mean, like, I I’ve done the most ridiculous things when I worked for Mick Jagger. I worked for Olivia Newton John. I worked for Andrea Bocelli. I’ve worked for politicians. I’m a co-founder of a political movement in Germany, which is now the largest nonprofit in Germany, a political party nonprofit. Worked with world leaders, spoke at the Parliament, worked for NASDAQ where NASA companies PLC is in London. I mean, it’s just it’s all because one, I knew who I was and number two, I had that basis of it’s only me stopping me right it’s only me stopping me. There’s nothing I decided in my daily part stay about that people playing small. You know how you know you get all your friends Ah, man, you’re amazing. All it’s great. It’s great, great. When you get to that point and you feel great every day because you everybody’s giving you accolades, you better start looking at moving yourself up a little bit, you know, you know, so it’s just yeah, it’s it’s that’s that’s my mantra so to say is this once you get too comfortable, get moving,
32:07 If you are the biggest one in the room, you should find a bigger room.
32:09 Exactly. There’s two things I do. When someone says when you’re the smartest one in the room, you should change rooms. I always say when you the smartest one in the room, elevate everybody, and then change rooms. Up and then go. Yeah, this is where you should be. You can do it. Come on. Let’s go. Okay, I’ll see you later.
32:27 So can you walk us through because now you’re doing like this consulting work, you’re doing coaching, you’re, you’re creating this new thing. Can you give us sort of like the major points that in the major steps you took from running a nightclub? And then getting into security to now you’ve worked with all these major corporations, huge names. What are some of the biggest points in that time that we’re missing?
32:55 Well, we’re talking about 15 years right there. So in that time, I ran an organization from the UK as European operations and Development Manager were had 3500 people under me. And I set up their entire training for 87 locations at the time, I think we had less I can’t remember 87 locations in nine countries. And I ran that like tight ship, I took over a joint venture for United States. I mean, all this stuff I’d never done before. Like, I’ve never done any. Yeah, my first corporate job. I will never forget it. I came home and my ex wife was like, they’re paying you how much? You know, it was like, Yeah, I know. It’s crazy, you know, and then they, it was my first job after being self-employed. And then I got my taxes take away, like, what? Like, 50% taxes in Germany. So and then so I kept bouncing around, I got headhunted by another company and they quadrupled my pay. Now I gotta realize I got in the army when I was 27 by the age of 32, I was making three 400k year with no experience, right running the company and all of Europe and a joint venture in America. And I’m sitting there going, Okay, what the hell? How did you find out this is not me.
34:09 You know? I’ll never forget sitting in the office in Chicago with the CEO beside me the director, Director operations beside me there and Alyssa, and every day you come in the office and I’d have a stack stack of tickets on my desk, like Oprah Winfrey, the Sox, the Cubs, you know, talk shows, whatever and you know, all these tickets and we go to lunch and the CEO would pay like three, four grand just for lunch. And we never worked. I was like, man, every day, I’m like, oh, man, they’re gonna come in the office. They’re playing guitar and singing. I thought I was the only one not working but nobody was working. It was incredible. And I couldn’t do it, couldn’t do it. It was it was just I felt like an imposter. But when I left that space, and I went back to smaller companies that experience, made me invaluable to small companies. I mean, I rocked smaller companies when I mean smaller, I mean, you know, regional companies not like one offs or whatever. And so that that’s where I really honed it. And then I got into when I got my MBA in the UK, back in 2002 to five, I skipped a year because my book came out, right. And I just did a year on the road. When I did that. I took an American company as my project and brought them to Germany and founded their, their, their corporate culture into Germany. So I, I studied management of change. And that was really successful. They’re actually still here, this to this day, the one of the market leaders, and these are all things that I have no idea, head first man, you know, I mean, it’s like, I want to do that, you know, it’s like when I remember when I when I went to my business school, I applied to Bradford University’s School Business Management, which is one of 29 business schools out of 10,000 in the world, that is triple accredited. That means I can go anywhere in the world and it’s and it’s, it’s a credit, it’s valid. Yeah, it’s valid. And they’re like, nope, you’re not getting in, and I’m like, Because I don’t have a I don’t have a full bachelor’s I have just like enough credits and that kind of stuff. I don’t have a bachelor’s, like how do you expect to get it? I said, Please let me have a personal audience. So I flew to the UK went in there and after 15 minutes and be like, we would be glad to have you. You know, and it’s just because the experience that I had, and I said, Why did you say no, and they said, it wasn’t because your colleges because we didn’t believe your, your resume. How did you get all these jobs when you don’t have any experience? I said, just like I’m getting into the school right now. Yeah, they are like, holy shit. This is. Yeah, he’s like, wow. And I gotta tell you, that’s the hardest part about doing online business is taking that personal sort of energy and the presence that that you can build in yourself and getting it across the screen. That’s the hardest challenges I’ve had. I’ve been online for two years now. And it’s been one of the biggest challenges. But you know, to get back to your question, that was the experience that I had to then move forward. And I opened up a bunch of my own companies and you know, had, you know, like I said, cocktail bars and stuff. We had joint ventures, other health clubs, all kinds of stuff. And you know, I did okay, I did pretty good. But as it does 2008 2007, the market crash, a twin brother had a mortgage charter of America. And I was sort of with him and we were doing movies. So we were out producing films in Hollywood in New York. So I fly. And I did the co-production coordination in Germany, because they had the best tax advantages. That’s the time. So I fly to LA, New York and LA back and forth like, going to dinner and meeting Robert De Niro. And it was, yeah, it was crazy. Yeah. And it’s because one of our clients, one of the mortgage client said, Hey, do you guys ever produce films like what we don’t know how to shoot a film like, no production, that means you just invest in them and get money back? Like, no. Can you help us out we’re like, sure. So we went to a meeting in like, 20 minutes later, we had a deal for 35 million and the guys like, oh, how did you do that? And we’re like, well, we leverage this gets added. They’re like, no one does that. So like a couple days later, in the New York Times, there was an article about us, a new way to finance films. And it’s funny because we didn’t know there was a new way as this way we’d have done it as it as a mortgage. Right? Yeah, no one ever thought of that. So we were big time, you know, like, wow, people waiting in line to see us and stuff. Then the market crashed. 2007 lost everything literally almost overnight. And because I was living from that life, and I didn’t have anything in Germany at the time, I was just sort of chilling. Because I was never there. I lost everything too. But I was in Berlin and I was homeless. So I literally lost I was renting my own apartment out to somebody else. Wow, that was allowed to stay there and weekend sometimes on my sofa when he went to his girlfriend’s place. So it was pretty rough. That happened within about two or three week period, if I remember correctly. And that’s when I went back to the club scene.
38:44 Full circle.
38:45 And I decided to take my my best selling MBA wearing corporate identity guy and go back to the clubs to the front door and be what they call us an elector. So as elector is someone who stands on a suit and tie and is eloquent and talks everybody welcomes them. Hello. Like to entertain. Yeah, they have the big thugs behind me the doorman, right? I mean, okay, I’m six, four, you know, to 40. So, that’s small. But, you know, these guys are boxers. And you know, these guys, you know. So, I mean, I went back into that life and what happened was, again, they’re like, what? Someone from the newspapers like, well, aren’t you Stephen Kuhn that author like, what are you doing on the door? What are you doing? Yeah, once you have your MBA, then it goes through all stuff. Like, when you do an article, so then the TV came and newspapers came, you know, then it’s like a big deal. Which made the club explode. And it was like, and, and that’s because the one thing I wasn’t embarrassed to stand on the door. Right, accepted where I was. I faced myself at that very moment. And everyone around me that very moment, that’s this is where I am. This is what I’m dealing with. It’s okay. Yeah, you know, and I did that better than anybody else. I can stand in my vulnerability like it’s swimming pool. I have no problem with that. That’s why every meeting I go to. Almost every meeting I go to when it comes to competition trying to win a bid or something which I typically don’t get into they can come with their polished you know and your suitcase and PowerPoint presentations I’m just sitting there watching them wait until they’re done because all that’s on the outside and nothing on the inside I just stand there and wait till they’re done and close the deal and that all comes from that inner power knowing that I’ve been down I’ve been up I’ve been across the left of right up you know everywhere in and I was always that same person there’s always that same people write me on internet like oh my god I can’t believe your answer me. I’m like, why wouldn’t I? Yeou know, so it’s it’s it was a rough one but it’s worse.
40:41 So shortly after that, I had to pick up a girlfriend cause I was homeless need somewhere to live. So because that was my fault. And it was toxic. She was horrible. Treat me like dirt made me feel like I was worse than a worse off than I was. And she had me in tears almost every single day. That was in 2008. And one day I just had enough and you know, she was freaking out in the car and calling me all kinds of names and stuff and I get out, you know. And as she got out, I hit the hit the gas. And I literally drove like 150 feet and there was a speed trap. German police like 10 German police or eight or what it was, yeah. And I’m bawling. I’m crying. I’m on this big dude, you know, crying and they pulled me out. They’re like, what the hell is wrong with you? Snotty nose, you know? Yeah. And she comes walking up, because there’s only 150 feet. And she’s like, he’s, he’s a war criminal. He’s killed people like what. We’re just come from like, just out of the blue, you know? And I’m freaking out. So I, I looked at the policemen beside me behind me around me. And I grabbed the gun of the police officer beside me and I wanted to shoot myself. And she’s like, do it do it. You know, my girlfriend, so they tackled her. This woman in front of me, grabbed my hand and push it down and spun around in front of me and said I know you, you don’t want to do this. Like what you know me like it just shocked me. So diffuse situation I lost my license and my car for good long time. I went home or went to my my buddy’s apartment with my apartment, his apartment. He wasn’t home. I went in the closet in the back part of closet, I had all my stuff and I pulled out my uniform, hung it up in the wall. Took a picture of myself and box in uniform and put it there. Pull out a K bar which is a Marine Band it and I put to my throat I was just going to just finish myself off. I was so sick of it. And at that moment, knocking the door I was like I can’t even kill myself. Jesus. So I went to the door like what and I had a knife in my hand like what it was that police officer had spun around said I know you was like, What are you doing? She was gonna come in. I’m like, Yeah, she took her hand, put the knife down and led me into my own living room. And she said something along the lines of Look, I know you I was one of your readings. I heard you read your book and this is not who you are, you’re gonna have an amazing life. You can have a wife and kids, you’re gonna you’re going to spread love across this whole world. And I was in shock sitting in my living room and she got up and we did the old German Lucy Lucy and one on each cheek, you know, kind of thing. And she walked out and close the door and I’m sitting there going, did that just happen to open the door? She was gone, of course. And to this day, I don’t know if it was real or if it was like, divine intervention to save my ass, I don’t know what it was. Yeah. But I knew that I wasn’t going to make it either way. So I called a buddy of mine in Austria, Michael. And I said, Look, Michael, if you don’t come and get me, I’m not going to be here tomorrow. We know it. So he sent a plane ticket and the next morning I flew out to Austria, he picked me up and dumped me in a monastery of Benedictine monks in the middle of Austria. And I spent a good six, eight months there and just really found out who I was this time, like no more bullshit going back into the world trying and again, starting over none of that stuff. Until I know who I am, 100% and what my strengths and weaknesses are and why I’m on this freakin planet, I am not leaving this monastery. I didn’t pay bills and tell anybody where I was, nothing. I just didn’t care. And when I came out, just everything changed. Everything was the way it was supposed to be. Like, I wasn’t going to jail and people weren’t helping me for bills. And I said, Look, I can’t pay you, I’ll pay you $5 a month, whatever. Like, okay, it was just, it was crazy. And from that point on, when I went back to Berlin, I was there for about another year, maybe half a year. I got called back from the corporation. They said, Hey, we have a job for you. And I’m like, I don’t want to work for you guys ever again. You know, it’s just too much. And they said, Why? It’s just a three month contract in Budapest. If something went, go, I was like my intuition said you gotta go to Budapest. It’s like, okay, three months can’t be that bad. You know, give me this much. And then like, okay, let’s get a bonus if you do this now like okay. So I go to Budapest, completely knowing who I am 100% free of any kind of pressure from the outside world. And I walk into the door of this business and I’m taking over. And the first person I see is a woman that I ended up marrying, is now my wife. We have two kids, it was 10 years ago. So that showed me one thing when you’re in alignment with who you are, and you’re living according to hit, like I explained. Things happen. You walk into your life every single day, you walk into your life, every single day. It’s just it’s unfathomable to me that people struggle so hard now that I know this. And the one thing about hit, relational capital, creating space, these are not things that I made up. These are all things that I after living my life, I went back and studied, how did I get through that time? What happened to me? What did I do to have that change? And then I started giving them names. That’s where all these acronyms come from.
45:53 So it is something I just made up I actually went through my whole life told stories, talked about them. So when was the moment that hit actually hit me. What was the moment that I created space for the first time? It was a moment that I knew that investing in relational capital actually brings a return every single time. And I can order every single time, every single moment, every single time. It’s amazing. And so that’s why we talked about authenticity, because their proprietary what we talked about, no one does what we do, Lane and I, no one does what we do, because it’s mine. It’s his. It’s our life. So that’s what the Humble Alpha is all about.
46:25 So now that we’re we’ve kind of seen the full picture and you’ve walked us through a lot of different points. Let’s kind of pivot into the second part of the show, which is our Quick Hits. And so first and foremost, what are some of the key takeaways from your career and your your projects so far?
46:47 No one has your best interests at heart except for you. Nobody. It just not possible. The one biggest mistake that I ever made is I’d be really excited about something and I always wanted a partner to share the the joy, the love, the whatever. And that was always my mistake because until I’m successful myself, I’m counting on this person to help me get successful and they won’t because they’re counting on you to help them make successful to make them successful. So that was my my my biggest takeaway from all the partners that I had, which were great people. But we were always more self interested than group interested always starts out great. You know, that’s, that’s easy. And so I’d say that’s one of my my biggest takeaways also like I said, no one else cares for you as much as you care for you. Nobody. No one expected. No expectations. And you know, when you go into a room and you do when you do things when you want to work, you know, whatever you do, just go in there with no expectations and give the best that you have period. create that space man. Take over that room. presence. You walk into a room. When you create space, you can walk into a room with 100 people in there. Don’t say a word people are looking at you. This is also what we teach in Humble Alpha which is incredible and presence of knowing who you are, is so powerful. Like when I was in a room in a hotel one time in Berlin. Bill Clinton walks in the room. I didn’t know he was he didn’t know is there walked in room and I felt this thing like, Oh, he’s just walked in there it was. Yeah.
48:05 Yeah. And he’s standing there.
48:07 Yeah. And I walked in, I walked up to me, William Jefferson Clinton. How you doing? He’s like, hey, how are you? So yeah, what I did there was I use his full name. I didn’t say President Clinton, Mr. Clinton, Bill slick, really fancy. Nice. I use this whole name. Same thing with Mick Jagger. Hey, Mick Jagger, or Hey, Olivia john, or, hey, Andre Bocelli can use the whole name because no one does that. Yeah. unique kind of thing.
48:28 Got it. Awesome. Now, what is the one piece of advice that you would give your 20 year old self? This is going to be an interesting one for you.
48:37 Yeah, you know, I if I think if I look back, and if I change anything, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But one thing I would have to say, I think that really matters, is it trust your intuition, 100%. Even in the moment where you think there’s no way this could be the way it’s supposed to be going? That you have to trust your intuition. Your intuition is the only real truth. Literally The only real truth out there is your intuition.
49:02 Got it. Now, what has been one book or resource that has helped you along your way?
49:09 So many but one that I suggest to every single client I have is by Michael Neill. Okay. It’s called The Inside Out Revolution. We talked about the working from the inside out all the time. And if you want to have a balanced life, if you’re not working on the inside, the outside doesn’t really matter. It’s like taking them taking a suit off every day, Inside-Out Revolution by Michael Neill. And it’s fantastic because it’s if you get the audio book, you listen to it for three and a half hours and you’re like deprogrammed. That’s incredible. You don’t have to remember anything it just does it for you. It’s amazing.
49:40 Awesome. Now where Stephen Kuhn can people learn more about you and your story?
49:46 Fantastic. Um, you know, qolenterprises.com. Quality of Life, qoLenterprises.com or Steven-Kuhn.com, Facebook, all that kind of stuff. It’s really big on but Facebook, I do a live every day. Okay. And you find me there.
50:04 Awesome. Well, Steven Kuhn decorated military veteran, speaker, author and consultant and proprietor Founder of HIT, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking with you.
50:17 That was my true pleasure. Thanks for letting me dig deep. You know, it’s not too often that people let you free flow like that. So, really appreciate it.
50:26 Thanks for coming on the show.
50:27 All right.
50:29 And that does it for our show with Steven Kuhn. One portion of Steven’s story that really sticks out is the fact that you have to trust your intuition. When you know who you are and clarify that to yourself. Then immediately, you know, how you feel about certain things. And we call that intuition, right? You have that gut feeling, and it can be helpful to dive into what’s causing that gut feeling and why you’re responding the way you are, but in a lot of ways, you have to just trust your intuition and trust your judgment. And this is something that kind of can go either way. And this is debated a lot whether you need to trust your intuition, or whether you need to just rationalize through everything. And Stephen advocates for trusting your your intuition, because ultimately, that is one of the truest expressions of your feelings. Stephen also shared this idea that when you know who you are, you walk into your life every day. And that’s actually really, really insightful. Because a lot of times you get out from the universe, what you put into it. So if no one knows that you’re interested in real estate, that you’re interested in becoming a music producer, you’re never going to be able to do that unless you share that interest with someone and allow the universe to work in your favor. Maybe someone has the right friend, or has someone that can get you into the proper position to learn more about your interests. But that doesn’t happen unless you’re very clear about who you are with yourself and what you actually want. And once you do That Stephen says, essentially your life just comes to you. That does it for this week’s show from Taste for Tenacity show number 33. This is Ben Trela. Thanks for listening