Known as “The Daily Performance Expert,” Doug Fleener is an ex-addict turned successful CEO, business advisor, keynote speaker, and coach. His extensive experience and journey of over 30 years in recovery and business give him a unique perspective with proven expertise and fast, high ROI results. His success started with his failures and the low-point in his life.
He bankrupted a family business due to his alcohol and cocaine addiction. He started anew on that fateful day, applying the same tenets of recovery to the business world: living one good day after another, believing in the power to change, taking responsibility for his actions and life, simplifying processes, and helping others succeed.
He lost that business but gained a whole new way of living and working. He was a corporate director at the Bose Corporation and CEO of a national company. He has spoken and consulted around the world. All from losing everything and learning the principles that saved his life and made a life.
He now shares these insights globally, fostering high-performing, engaged workforces that improve short and long-term results. He believes that higher levels of performance and success can be achieved within a day—the day that makes the year that shapes a life.
His new book, The Day Makes the Year (Makes a Life): Transform your work and life with One-Day Success (Five Leaf Clover Publishing) is now available.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Top techniques for successfully practicing Relentless Simplicity throughout the day
- How to tap into the Superpower of Taking Responsibility
- One-Day Success: The 6 principles and accompanying practices to achieve more growth, success, and happiness
- The Power of Intention and how to choose what to prioritize
- How he used the principles of recovery to transform from a jobless addict to a successful CEO, executive coach, and international speaker
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix.
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for High Velocity Radio.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:14] Lee Kantor here. Another episode of High Velocity Radio, and this is going to be a good one. Today on the show we have Doug Fleener. He is the author of the new book, The Day Makes the Year Makes a Life. Transform your Work and Life with One Day Success. Welcome, Doug.
Doug Fleener: [00:00:33] Thank you Lee.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:34] I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about the the first of all, the premise of the book. What’s it about?
Doug Fleener: [00:00:43] Well, the premise of the book is that about 37 years ago, my life hit rock bottom and from a cocaine and alcohol addiction and had to rebuild my life and went into recovery. And I learned some very, very valuable lessons in recovery that obviously not only helped me stay clean and sober for 37 years, but more just as important has helped me in business. And so I really wanted to share those principles. Luckily, most people don’t need to go into recovery, but some of those principles can really help someone be successful in whatever they do, both business and in personal life.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:21] Well, even people not in recovery have heard the phrase one day at a time. It sounds like you’re taking that and really looking at that in different facets of that phrase.
Doug Fleener: [00:01:32] Yeah, yeah, it really is the premise and the foundation for the book. There are six principles altogether, but the very first one is the day. And you know everything. Everything you need, everything you want, your future, everything is really is created in the day. And I work with a lot of business owners and, and they’re either in the past or far out in the future and not doing what they need to do in the day to be successful.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:56] And what are kind of some symptoms that you’re not kind of in that present moment, that you are either kind of time traveling backwards into some nostalgic past or into some future that may or may not ever occur.
Doug Fleener: [00:02:12] Well, showing you’re stuck in the past is kind of when you talk about what you used to do, or probably even bigger, is that there’s kind of resentment and regret, and a lot of us carry around a lot of that, and that really keeps us from being in the moment. And for about the future, I think, is people have a lot of plans, a lot of ideas, a lot of things they want to accomplish. But if you ask them, what did they do in the day? They spent most of their day on task that isn’t necessarily really creating that future. And so when you’re really focused on what you want to have, it’s not like you don’t think about the future, but it’s what you have to do in the day to create that future you want.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:49] So how do you attack each day so that you do wring out the most out of each day? Is there kind of a template that you have for the day that it begins a certain way, and it has its own rhythm that’s predictable and repeatable, like how does it work?
Doug Fleener: [00:03:04] Good question. And, you know, I think it really starts with how you start your day, the mindset, the plan that you have, the priorities. And so one of the things I learned early in recovery is trying to identify who did I want to be that day and what did I want to accomplish that day. And early on, it was just get through a day without a drink or a drug. And over time it started to be manage organizations and what have you. So I think it’s about understanding. You start your day with where you want to go. You just don’t hop in the car and think you’re going to go on vacation and don’t know where you’re going, but you do have a map, if you will, of what you want to accomplish. So it really starts right there.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:44] Now, how does an individual, especially an entrepreneur, kind of balance all the the different priorities they might have? So, for example, they might have a priority of, okay, I’m the leader of this company. So I want to achieve these things at the end of the year or the end of the, you know, as my legacy as this business owner. But I’m also a husband, so I want to have these, you know, I want to be this type of a husband, and I want to be this type of a father, and I want to be this type of a community member. How do I kind of structure the day so that I am kind of winning at all of these things that I’m trying to accomplish as a person in totality?
Doug Fleener: [00:04:28] I love that question. And because I talk a lot about that, and it really starts with priorities. And when people think and use that word, and when you think of priorities, most people think about prioritizing tasks. But you said it. You want to prioritize your life. Understanding what are your priorities. And as you mentioned, right, I’m a business owner. I’m also a father. I’m a husband. And understanding that what those priorities are and really investing your time and energy in that. You’ll talk with people again. They’ll say that, you know, so obviously if you’re a business owner, probably, you know, the number one on the business side is revenue, you know, revenue and profits. But if you ask them where they’re spending their time, you know, they’re focused on social media. They’re, you know, if they’re a retailer, they’re unpacking an order or what have you. So, you know, I do believe that you can have I like to call it work life harmony because it can’t always be in balance. Right? There are just times we have to work more, and there are times if we go on vacation with the family, we need to be in our personal life more. But we can create harmony. But it starts with really having intentional actions each day to achieve all those priorities.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:41] So in your work as a coach, how do you kind of triage someone’s situation? I know in a coaching environment, I’m sure most of the time, hopefully, that they’re coming to you and saying, I have a problem and help me. So they’re at a vulnerable point of humility, maybe where they are asking for hope. So they are kind of at least have their guard down and they’re not as reactive, hopefully. But when they come to you and you see like, okay, things are out of whack, maybe they do have addiction problems, maybe they’re have strained relationships. How do you kind of triage that and give them kind of bite sized ways to improve so that don’t overwhelm the situation? Because I’m sure when you were in the midst of your addiction, it was difficult to have conversations to you about, hey, you know, maybe this isn’t the right thing to do. You know, you may not have been open to having those conversations.
Doug Fleener: [00:06:35] Well, you know, I like to start off with, you know, helping the the owner or whoever the person is being coached is first identify what their priorities are. I look at my priorities every day, you know, and and they move around in level and rankings, if you will, based upon the day. But my recovery comes first and then my family and my friends and and then drive in revenue. One of my priorities is helping more people. So I have a little process that we call the we call it the map. And the the map is where is mindset, actions and priorities. And it really starts with, you know, with the priorities. But the map is a better analogy, if you will. And so again, understanding what your priorities are and then get the person to focus on what’s their mindset for the day. You know, I start my day every day again trying to determine what kind of person do I want to be. But, you know, the issue is that most people don’t turn that into actions. You know, we aren’t what we think. We are what we do. And so, you know, I’m very good on liking to use simple little things. Like every day I have a reminder pop up in my phone to do five good things a day. Now, I’d like to think I would just do them without a reminder, but I know that when I get out of myself and do something for others that I’m going to, I’m going to be a better person. And as a result, I think that comes back to me three fold. So really get a person to understand how they think, what they focus on and then what they do. And it’s really a shift for most people.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:15] Now, the day before your first day of being a non addict, could you have thought in these terms?
Doug Fleener: [00:08:26] Oh no. No not not at all. And um, you know, there was a point when, uh, and my backstory is I bankrupted a family business. I hurt a lot of people. Uh, it was back in Florida in the 80s, and it was in the cocaine cowboy Miami Vice days, and I just. I stole a lot of family money. And, you know, one of the reasons I had to learn how to live like this is because I had such regret. I had such shame, such guilt, and I had to learn how to live this different way. And that’s why I like to start within the day is, you know, what are you going to what are you going to accomplish in this day? Who are you going to be in this day? But without recovery, I don’t think I ever would have started thinking like this. And again, it’s it’s interesting. So I run a Facebook group called The Highly Effective Business Owner. And what I really focus it on is being effective, being effective in the day, being effective as an owner. And again, these are things I never could have done without first learning how to live my life differently.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:33] So even in the even when you’re struggling with having multiple priority, the word priority and the word priorities to me are they might one might be a plural of the other, but to me that has they have different definitions because a priority means the most important thing. So if there’s priorities, now you’re saying there are several most important things, which it kind of goes against the definition of the word priority. How do you kind of I know you’re shooting for harmony, but how do you kind of prioritize the priorities?
Doug Fleener: [00:10:14] That’s a good question. And, you know, there are so many different elements of of our life. And, you know, so I do I again we start off, most people have five, six, seven different priorities that are important to them. And you know, I’m really like to keep things simple. They all can’t be the priority at the moment, right? I can’t be a maybe a good husband while I got a fire at work and what have you. So it’s really about understanding what is the right choice to make at the right time. And we always have choices, and I think that’s where that’s another element in the book. We call it taking responsibility. It’s kind of a superpower, if you will, because when you own everything that’s happening to you, you have the power to change it. If you think you’re a victim of it, you think some some circumstance you have no control over, then you can’t fix it. So it’s really making those right choices at the right moment.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:16] Now, at some point, don’t you have to determine, as a human on this planet, what is my true north like? What is, you know, kind of the goal of goals? What is this like? I have to have that clear vision of what my standard is before I can prioritize anything.
Doug Fleener: [00:11:42] Yeah.
Doug Fleener: [00:11:43] I think it’s knowing, right? I mean, it’s kind of, you know, cliche, if you will, but, you know, at the end of the at the end when the end of the road comes, you know, what did you accomplish? What do you want people to see. And, and rarely, you know, does anyone say, oh, man, you know, he, he, he ran a hell of a warehouse chain. Uh, right. It’s it’s who we are as people. And I think it’s again, it’s in balance with family and friends and what have you. But for me, it’s I always want to make sure that my actions are congruent with who I want to be. And, you know, a lot of people get in a lot of trouble, if you will, because there’s such a disconnect between those. And again, I think there’s just times where, right, we we need to make money. We, we need to spend time with family. And it’s making sure that we’re really making those right choices at the right moment and understanding that you can have it all. I mean, I like I like to joke and say that, you know, whoever said you can’t have it all didn’t own their own business. Because when you own your own business, especially, you get to make some of these choices.
Doug Fleener: [00:12:52] Right?
Lee Kantor: [00:12:52] Because ultimately the buck stops with you. There’s no kind of, you know, obnoxious boss who doesn’t get you. You’re the obnoxious boss who might not be choosing wisely. Now go ahead.
Doug Fleener: [00:13:06] Let me just say one thing real fast on that. It’s funny, I worked with with a coach, Alan Weiss, and I love it. But he would say to the people is he says, you know, so most of you people who are self employed work for a terrible boss.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:21] Sadly that’s true. They may not thought it was.
Doug Fleener: [00:13:25] A great line.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:26] Now, is there a way to prevent kind of an overwhelm? Because I can see, especially in entrepreneur, when they’re wearing multiple hats, that by itself seems overwhelming. But to to create kind of action items for myself just on my business, that to do list can get really out of hand quickly. And then if I layer in my personal life and my family life and my community responsibility life, all of that stuff can really overwhelm. Is there a way to manage each of those so that I am being effective with each of those different priorities that I do have?
Doug Fleener: [00:14:09] But I think that’s where starting off at the start of the day, understanding, you know, what do you want to advance? What is my most focused, my most important, my priority. And so again, if I think about, say, driving revenue, it’s not one thing is just to open the doors and whatever your business is, but it’s also making sure that we are doing the strategies and we’re doing the things in the day that will drive revenue. And if you’re the owner, you know, unless you’ve got a sales manager and you’re positive they’re doing it, then then you have to be doing that. So it’s knowing that, you know, when you do get overwhelmed, what happens? Nothing happens. So it’s really focusing on what are those that next most important thing I like personally I like the time block. So I’ll block out, you know, if I have something very important, you know, if you wanted to, if you had the opportunity to meet someone who’s really important in your life and you could meet them for an hour, you would put it on your calendar. You’d even probably go to that location early. You would really block it out. But we don’t block it out for ourselves and for the people around us. So time blocking, I think, can really be important. It’s like, you know what, for the next hour, this is what I’m going to do. The other thing I think owners have that entrepreneurs and owners have to do better at is learning just to say no and just say not now. So often they don’t own their own time. They don’t own their own day. Anyone can interrupt them. And I think sometimes when you’re really focused on the right things to get done, you have to be able to say, hey, not now.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:44] Now in your life when you were making the transition from addict to being in recovery, when did you start believing that, okay, this time it’s going to stick. This time is the time that I am going to, you know, get to the other side of this.
Doug Fleener: [00:16:05] Yeah, it actually for me, it happened very early in my recovery. At the time, I owned a marine supply store, and I went to into a recovery meeting after about 3 or 4 days. And I walked in and, and I saw some guys that I really that I knew some of my customers. And they walked up to me and they said, we’ve we’ve been waiting on you. And so that kind of tells you how well I was hiding my life. But you know what? I what really inspired me is that I saw happy people. I just remember walking in this room and it was bright and there was laughter. And I thought, you know what? I, you know, people can live this way and be happy. And and I try to bring that not only to people in recovery, but also people outside recovery. And, you know, and I appreciate this conversation we’ve had about, you know, keeping this work life in harmony or in balance, whatever you want to call it, that, you know, there’s a lot of people out there who do it, and it’s understanding that the payoff is so well worth it. You just have to do it a day at a time.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:13] Now, any advice you mentioned how during the period that you were an addict, that things didn’t go so well for a lot of people, and I’m sure some of the people were close to you and some of the people might have been family members of you. How would you recommend a family member that has a member of their family going through something like this to help them help themselves? I know you can’t fix anybody else, but as a I’m a parent and if my child was going through this, it would be I know that I would be torn. You know, I’d want to do everything to protect my child. But I also they got to kind of deal with the ramifications of their actions and their choices. How would you advise a family member to help somebody that’s going through addiction?
Doug Fleener: [00:18:07] I really appreciate that question. I think first, first and foremost, you have to take care of yourself. And a lot of people get lost in someone else’s disease. And and so it creates just even more turmoil in those. If, if you’re in a relationship and connected in any way with someone with addiction, alcoholism, and obviously there’s many addictions beyond drugs, you know, it can become a very chaotic life. So first and foremost, take care of yourself. And the second is to not enable people, you know, part of a part of the turnaround that can happen. And whether it’s, you know, you mentioned someone come to you for coaching and business and they’re hurting or on the recovery side, you know, at some point someone has to hit a bottom and kind of say, I’m done with this. Now, alcoholics and addicts have a potential to keep digging the hole quite well, but you can enable them. And I think that would you know, that would is the hardest thing for a parent is to watch your child suffer and and not try to fix them. You can give them every opportunity to, to get help, but ultimately you can’t enable them to the point that they can continue to destroy their lives and others.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:31] So when you started coaching, when did you start feeling like, okay, this is something that I do have a message that’s resonating. I can help people. And when when that happened, can you share a story that maybe kind of illustrates how you were able to help someone through their own challenges to get to a new level?
Doug Fleener: [00:19:52] The.
Doug Fleener: [00:19:54] And, you know.
Doug Fleener: [00:19:55] The coaching actually came out of I was director of retail for Bose Corporation. So it was with them and took them from one store to 100 stores. I ran a law office title firm. So, you know, the coaching was just a natural part of leadership. And so, you know, I’d been doing it. I just would never necessarily called myself a coach, but I was coaching people. And the story that I think about, I love to tell is about this woman named Kim. And we were opening a store up in Foley, Alabama. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there. Um, so they have some of the best royal red shrimp anywhere. And we met Kim and Kim. You could just tell she was this, this young woman who had so much potential, and she was the only person who probably didn’t see it. And I told him, I said, you know, I want you to be in a I want you to be a head cashier. And Kim was like, oh, no, I could never do that. And we would just like, Kim, just try it, don’t worry. And each time we Kim mastered what she was asked to do and what we did is and I think this is so important when you coach people is and it’s true in recovery is, you know, when when someone can’t believe in themselves, you believe in them, you walk with them, you show them that they can do it. And I will tell you, nothing made me prouder than when Kim would eventually become store manager of the year at Bose. And this is a woman who just didn’t even want to be a full time cashier. And so, you know, each time Kim got a new opportunity, she nailed it. But she and eventually she got to that place where she believed in herself. And to me, I think that’s just, you know, coaches just don’t, you know, tell you what to do, but definitely walk with you and get you to that next level.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:54] Good stuff. Well, Doug, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you. If somebody wants to get a hold of the book, the day makes the year. Where should they go? Is there a website that you have for your coaching? What are the best coordinates to connect with you?
Doug Fleener: [00:22:12] Uh, thanks. So the book The Day Makes the Year Makes a Life. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites. You can find me on Doug at Doug fleener.com. And again, if you’re a business owner, I’d love to have you join our group where we help each other become much more effective for more personal and business success. And you can get that at the highly effective business owner.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:40] Good stuff. Well, thank you again, Doug.
Doug Fleener: [00:22:43] Thank you, Lee. Really appreciate getting the message out.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:45] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on High Velocity Radio.