Ultra Habits With RJ Singh

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have RJ Singh. RJ, welcome.

Thanks for having me, Thomas.

It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Yeah, so Thomas, I am a director in an Australian firm called the Cora Group. Shareholder as well as an executive director, so what we do at Cora is we are a disrupter in the logistic sector in Australia, we have a non-asset based logistic service, so what that means is companies that use transport services and warehouse companies and all that kind of stuff instead of going directly to the providers, they come to us and we integrate into different providers and managed a lot, so it’s like one throat to choke. So that’s kind of my, my business that I’m in with a few other guys. I also am the founder and creator of ultra-habits which is a primarily a podcast, but it is in the form or delivered really with the intention of delivering executive education, focused on high performance habits, behaviours, attitudes, everything that enables people to kick butt in the corporate scene.

What you mentioned briefly before the call that is, is it inspired by ultra-running? No, well partly, I was always a student. Well, business was a means of personal transformation for me and we can talk about what that means later and I was always extreme in the business community pushing myself as hard as I could in many different ways, sometimes healthy, sometimes not so healthy. When I got into the ultra-endurance community later on, I realised that a lot of the values and a lot of the mechanisms required to be a successful endurance athlete, especially in the world of ultra, has a lot of carry over into the world of commerce. There’s a lot of uh, there’s a lot of things required to be successful in ultra that you really want to have if you’re planning on being successful in a long-term way in the commerce world. Mm and almost like the, the success in ultra, I mean, I don’t have a little bit of education, not practical application in the ultra-world.

But I would imagine it’s like an extreme version of success in sports. So, you know, if you, if you apply extreme principles from that into business, I would imagine there are some pretty good results that you can have there. Is that accurate to say? That’s a very interesting point. I would say what makes an ultra-runner successful if you park the genetics because a lot of the best ultra-runners were not the best marathon runners, right? Like it’s a lot of the guys that couldn’t beat the Kenyan, so they’re like, ok, we may as well go do not running right. And what makes people successful ultra-runners, I would say, other than the physical acumen is the ability to consistently do the things that you don’t necessarily want to do day in day out, you see. And so that is very, very common in terms of what can make us successful, not only in business, but in any space is the consistency of the behaviours, attitudes, actions, activities day in day out, that compound on each other and make us successful.

And that typically is where you’ll find most of the super-successful ultra-runners because ultra-runners, if you ran to case next to an ultra-runner you might be faster than him or her. But ultra-runners in the land of 100 km or whatever, plus a woman can beat a man. It has all that stuff doesn’t matter because it goes to another level, right? And it comes down to staying power, preparation, nutrition, there’s a lot of factors beyond just the physical document. Really interesting topic and perhaps we can cover it later on, but when I read your profile I would be, I would regret not asking you about your story, So it sounds like a fascinating one. So are you happy to go into that today? Yeah, for sure. So yes, so I am, I grew up in California in the bay area. So the other side of San Francisco Oakland, east bay, that area for anyone that’s familiar with California, Berkeley is not far from where a group, a lot of people know Berkeley we were immigrants to the United States and you know, it was a hyperactive kid orientated towards sport.

Long story short, I got into lots of trouble very young. I was out of control, I would have been one of those 80 HD kids I suppose that they would have thrown medication, at but it was a little bit before that era and you know, I just got involved with the wrong crowd, the wrong stuff and you know, I, I engaged the life of crime, right? So came from a good family, but I got in trouble with a lot of very young age and what happened was I developed an appetite for negative consequences very early and because I had no sense of true north and who I was, it was a form of attention now in hindsight, looking back it was, well, you know, if I’m not going to get praise and attention from being a superstar, which I was from sport, but for whatever reason, I just, the, the attention that I was getting from a negative behaviour was, you know, I think something that I pursued and ultimately, you know, I’m in my twenties, I’m, you know, I’m a convicted felon a few times over, I’m making money the wrong way, I’m hanging out in pool halls, I grew up in pool halls, so my parents made the mistake of buying a pool table when I was 10, I got very good, love to hang out in pool halls, I loved fast money, I love dodgy characters and you know in my twenties by my mid-twenties I was kind of a career felon really.

If you would have saw me or met me, I would have been well spoken. I was I was doing a business degree at the time, so I managed to get myself into a business school, Pretty good business school, but I was living a double life and you know, there was a lot of potential there in hindsight. There was a lot of commercial potential business, commercial business potential, sorry. but I was just expressing that potential in very negative ways and ultimately in 2008, you know, the US Government started to get them more straight on people and their histories and what they had been up to and you know, long things had happened and I decided to leave and I jumped on a plane in 2008. It was 25 years old, had no skills, couldn’t make an egg, could barely you know, make toast severe alcoholic, smoked like a chimney and yeah I boarded an airplane and the view was I would never be able to come back or go back to the United States, but I just could no longer deal with the consequences and how my life was going and I knew that the end was getting near something really, really bad was going to happen to me and that you know, you can leave it up to your imagination, to your audience imagination, I was involved with all types of interesting characters.

So I came to Australia and bounced around for two years, my alcoholism had reached new depths of despair, I was alone, things were not familiar in a foreign country and those skills, but I had managed to get a job, in telesales, in logistics, and so that was the beginning of the logistics career, look, I floated around like a fart in a bottle and a couple of years later I met a man who was a teacher, a natural teacher and he was young, he had lived in San Francisco, he had started businesses in London, he was Australian And he saw something in me that I probably didn’t see him myself at the time and I was 28 and he basically, I saw some energy, he saw some potential and he said to me, and I paraphrase at a coffee shop because I told him all this and I told him in death, and he said, look that’s, that’s interesting, but I think that you’ve got lots of potential and I want to mentor you and what I need you to do is you need to sort your stuff out, you need to handle your alcohol problems, all that stuff, but I’m gonna show you how to do business and that was the beginning of a, A very successful relationship.

We, we grew that business in 18 months over 100%, it was phenomenal. I was flying all over the country, didn’t know what I was doing. I was cold calling, knocking open doors, he was coming, he was helping me close, but I was learning and that was the beginning of my journey. That company, by the way, now is my biggest competitor. All right. Yeah, that’s really interesting. Well, yeah, so I’ve been sober for over 10 years. you know, I’m transformed in every way. And that was that was a long journey. You know, there’s a there was a mental, spiritual, emotional, physical transformation that I underwent in a very, very short space and time. Um, and I learned to channel all this energy that I had. That was misdirected into a more positive way. Mm Have you had any thoughts or have you reflected on where you would be, where your life would be if you hadn’t met your mentor? Yeah, I probably would have ended up in, I would have continued to work, but I would have been bouncing around jobs because I think what happened was when he provided an opportunity of mentorship, I thought to myself and I have a history of attracting to older male role models, but they were always negative us, right? Here is a positive role model. He was young. He was starting to show me what success could look like, right? And how do you not presented that opportunity? I probably would not have decided to get sober, my drinking was reaching a crescendo here in Australia. So I think what could have happened is had we not met, I would have never found a sense of purpose which would have kept me on the straight and narrow through the trials and tribulations of trying to get sober. Does that make sense? And so you probably be talking to someone that’s still floating around job to job as soon as he gets some coverages that had a new job, drinking all night rocking up to work in the same suit for three days in a row. I wouldn’t have kids, I would have a wife, I wouldn’t have everything that I have today because I don’t think I would have been presented with an opportunity that would have given me a sense of purpose and deep why that makes sense. Yeah.

Have you thought or have you attempted to find a mentee in the same way that he did for you? Yes. And I’ve done it several times, not only through word, but I’ve also done it in the recovery community where it’s part and parcel of what we do, right? So, you know, if you’re talking about sponsorship, are you talking about helping other people through their trials and tribulations. I do that in, in in one form. but in the business world, most definitely, most definitely, I would say. And I’ve been reflecting on this slightly that as I get older. Um, and maybe it’s having kids. Maybe it’s becoming more introspective, more reserved, less outgoing. I tend to open up myself less to people. I used to give myself all the time to everyone and a lot of that might have come out of goodwill or me wanting to pontificate, but I find now for me to take someone on, I really have to know that they’re willing to do the hard work.

And whether that’s turnaround, you know, changing their life or even mentoring them within the business context. You’ve got to put in the work because you’re investing your time. You mean correct And in time is no longer an asset that I have an abundance of, right? You’ve given any thought to why you sought role models. Yeah, it’s a very good question. Um, I think I grew up with a father who is, you know, it’s an immigrant’s tale, right? Like when started a cleaning company in the bay area, he liked to drink and you like to do his thing. But his definition of a hardworking man and father was all work. We didn’t see him and he wasn’t necessarily hands on throughout the journey of my street life. It was a theme that played through where I was always looking for strong men Role models and I don’t think I knew it at the time and they were always older, sometimes 2030 years older.

I was 15, I was hanging around guys that were in their 40s man like and they weren’t doing the right thing. I think it was because I needed to start to define who I was and I was looking to the stronger characters, men that I thought had what I wanted to help me define that. And it’s a very powerful story of How important it is for a young person or anyone. Even when I change that 25, which isn’t young, it’s young but not young. The power of influences and role models, you know, pretty profound stuff made a big difference. if you were to summarise what you were taught by your mentor, if you had to summarise it, what would you say? The good mentor? Mm. Yeah, I would say what is example taught me was that if you’re willing to outpace an outwork your environment, you will succeed, right?

And what he also taught me as well because I went and did an executive M. B A real tough program. Was that yes, street smarts is great and I had a whole abundance of that. But the power of a formal education is well, cannot be underestimated because he was he had both. And yeah, he, he in the business context, I used to sit in meetings with them and he was such a trusted advisor that we would secure business just because he had an ability to counsel the prospective client on an array of different topics and that’s what I learned is that in the world of business you have to get yourself to a certain level of competence where a person feels like this is someone I want sitting across the table from me when I’m making difficult decisions.

And that’s another thing I learned from him that you’ve got to get to that level of extreme competence where people just want to be around you, they want to be partnered with you because you’re the person at the end of the day when the proverbial hits the fan or they gotta go to market or they need something that they know is someone they need on their team. And I learned that from him and not from him telling me, but from him showing me I like that phrase, extreme competence. Do you use that principle in your ultra-running? But in my ultra-running, I got pretty good pretty fast. I’m naturally acclimatised to running. I just stopped running during my MBA and picked it up Maybe six months after my NBA picked up a couple sponsorships, which has been great for me. I would say what navigates me in ultra-running and everything else is perspiration versus inspiration.

It’s about consistently doing the actions and I would say that’s a sense of extreme ownership if you want to use that extreme, but it’s owning everything I’m doing. Is there a jocko influence there at all? There is, there is a Jacko influence. In fact, I, I had finished his morning, he had this black book my wife brought bought me for my birthday. She’s like, I hope you like this guy. But I believe in the principle. I believe in a lot of – in fact I had on my podcast this morning, Mark Devine who is an ex-Navy seal. Um, he’s created the seal training program and he, he’s an anomaly because he’s an MBA CPA intellect but was an honour man in the navy seals. Right? So I really adopt a lot of um, the psychology within the military within my day because I believe in him, I believe in the principles.

Great answer. I think we could, we could talk a lot of, about a lot of things there. Um, but have you, have you given any thought about why or did he tell you why your mentor decided to put the time investment into you? I think he’s naturally, one is naturally, um, he’s a natural teacher. If you look at our industry, some of the best graduate, you look at my firm, my firm is now a competitor of that firm. He’s no longer with that firm. But if you look at my firm were a competitor and the senior leadership team. Two of us were directly mentored by him. My CEO and myself, I’m the head of growth and my CEO, we’re both mentored by him, our finance manager and a lot of our analysts came through his graduate program. So he had an appetite to teach. It was part of how his ego was satisfied is by being that he liked to impart.

He liked, that was how he got ego satisfaction, which is great. I think he took me on personally in a personal way because he knew I could get him my at the level of energy I had in those days was phenomenal because you’re talking about all this energy that was used on getting Hammer 24 7 all of a sudden there was no lid on that energy and it was crazy and he knew that I could help the business to be successful. But one thing I know about matt is he loves The real odd case and you’ve got a 25 year old kid from the barrier that’s coming off the back of a lot of trouble. He sees that I want to be successful. He always said to me, you knew you wanted to be successful. I just needed to show you how and I didn’t like the story and that’s, that’s the thing, he, he likes people’s stories and he then chooses to invest and I think that’s why he, he did.

But he also saw the capability and the willingness to do anything at that time to be successful. There’s nothing more, there’s nothing more powerful than having people on your team that are redefining who they are via the means that you’ve offered them mm Because they’re going to give you everything right sort of a leadership principle. I think so. I’ve heard it said that if you can, if you can help people get where they are now to where they want to be and you can fit them into that organisation. It’s kind of like they want, they want to help, they want to be a part of that process. I think that applies to you. Yeah. And you know, the thing is to like, they put up, he put up in the business, put up and that’s why I think I will always stay in small business because I know I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.

But you know, in those days I was rubbing up against everyone because I’m getting my life together. Everyone knows that. And you got this crazy person who’s like a boiler room mentality. American guy was even more American back then on the phone, like yeah, I remember people like dude, you know, it’s Australia too right. Like it’s a bit more reserved. this guy is crazy and you know, I’d have outbursts and I apologised and it was a forgiving environment was very it was a one thing I’ve learned, it’s come across in my podcast many times surprisingly talking to people in the military athletes. we’ve had guests contributors from the HBR Harvard Business Review. One theme that seems to come across is the importance and power of psychological safety. I had a lot of psychological safety there. Okay. And yeah, interesting. I wanted to pick up on something when you went from America to Australia and that is, I sort of looked at it like it was a new start for you.

But then you said you would you say you took some of your quote unquote problems with you? And do you think at the time you looked at it as a way to start fresh? It’s a very good question. So when I was leaving, when I was leaving, I said to my dad at the gate I’m gonna make you proud, you know, he’s in tears and my dad was kind of not that kind of guy, I honestly believed that and I got smashed the whole plane ride, right? And basically it was what we call a geographical, I was simply moving location, but I was bringing myself to where I was going. And that compulsion and that urged to obliterate myself via alcohol, didn’t leave. The problem became that because I had a job in Australia.

It brought me to my knees quicker, you know, back in the US/ I drink all night sleep all day, what do you care? Right? Like who cares? I was like living in a in a in a subculture in Australia, I got a job, it’s a multinational company, I’m going in there, blood shot eyes seven in the more you want me to work at seven in the morning, calling people are, you know, and I was sick and it was worse and in many ways it was the best thing for me because I had to face up, I had to front up to life, I no escape, no family, no nothing had to face it. It took two years being here to finally get there where I just couldn’t live like that anymore. If you saw someone who was in a similar position to you and you could see that they had, let’s say an a potential appetite for doing better, but they had problems with, say alcohol, what is it that you would say to them to help them, you have to get sober first and unfortunately you can present a, an alcoholic or an addict of my type With $1 million dollars and they may or may not take it and get sober or they can get a dry and it may hit their rock bottom, like you just don’t know when people have had enough.

That’s the frustrating and unfortunate thing, but what I would suggest is we as an alcoholic and addict, life is predictable, you know what, you’re going to get be guided by curiosity as to what’s on offer on the other side of legend, what if you could unleash your full potential, redirect that energy to a positive way, what could life look like and what could life be like and be guided by that curiosity and accept that it’s going to be hard. But I actually grew the most in that first year of sobriety, It was exponential. Now it’s, you know, step changes, right? And in hindsight, that’s when I learned where there’s fear, where there’s pain, where there’s hardship and I’m not saying be masochistic, but many at times that’s where we need to be going, that’s where we need to be looking, because on the other side of that hard is going to be where we grow, you know, it’s, I’m not saying anything that’s not been said a million times, unfortunately people, I’ve seen people drink themselves to death, you know, knowing they’ve got health issues or whatever, but they just don’t stop.

Would you say it’s up to them, then they’ve got to want to do it of 100, You can start off, you can start off for other people, you know, your kids, your wife, your blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But ultimately, when, when, when it gets real and when it gets hard, you’re gonna have to have a deep, y really, we’re gonna have to be a deep y in a sense of commitment, I think where you started versus where you are now? I think people would, I think most people would consider that a significant success. So what are some of the things that you would share which have made that a successful journey for you or maybe you think you’ve implemented? Rather, I would say this because it’s just, it can be, I’ll say this, I believe that a successful life, a successful human performance orientated person, this is making the assumption that I’m talking to a person that is performance orientated, that wants to be the best they can be.

They’re interested in performance that at the apex of their life, they should be guided by the evolution of mind, body spirit, physical, that should be the guiding force. And if we make that the guiding force and if we make that where we’re going, the decisions we make are going to be the right decisions in the main, in a line with our development and success will then come to you in whatever form that looks like for some people, it’s commerce for some people, it’s learning to be a pilot for some people, it’s being a teacher, whatever right? Be guided by extracting the best you can out of yourself in every aspect of your being Again, mind, body, spirit, physical, I think that’s fundamental. And then from there, get committed, get committed to the activities, the granular activities that are required to grow, right?

So that might mean your physical element you like CrossFit OK, So you joined a CrossFit gym, what are the things you need to do to do? CrossFit, X, Y, Z. And then beyond that, what are the habits that need to be implemented? Get up early, go to sleep. So it’s all about understanding where the evolution is, how you’re going to evolve and then what are the mechanisms to get there? And then the habits that are going to support that, That’s what I would say to people, thank you for that. In terms of habits, I think a lot of people, they like the idea of on being successful in business or maybe being a runner, you know, lots of people attempt to take up running, but they don’t either have the motivation or they don’t have the habits. What do you say to someone who is looking to do it, but can’t will themselves to do it? Interesting one, I would say that first of all, you have to see yourself, you have to see that particular discipline is somewhat sexy, right?

So if you’re not a runner, like if you’re built like a Scottish dude, not to be stereotypical, you know, my wife’s got like a big leg, like she just doesn’t run, like if you’re built a certain way and you hate running, but for you, your idea of The, the fitness archetype guru is someone that can do 500 pull ups? Well then maybe you get into a gym that’s focused on folk functional training. So first of all, what you’re pursuing needs to be attractive to you and then I would say you get involved in a group that supports that function, right? So if it’s, if it’s fitness, a lot of people, let’s talk about running, they join running groups, You find the people in the running group that move at your speed, they move and groove the same way you do, they didn’t you publicly commit, you’re committing to the group that you’re gonna get up, you know, in the UK, lots of running groups, Park runs five AM six AM. You start to commit and you start to do and what ends up happening is you start to lose that need to use willpower because as you start to get the results and you start to see the change, you start to get a feedback loop from your environment and from your body, I feel good, I look good.

Oh my God, I could fit in these jeans, Oh my God, look at that girl, she’s looking at me, she wants to go to. So all these things are starting to happen that perpetuate You two stay on that path And what ends up happening is 90 days, six months a year, it becomes less willpower and more who you are. You see interesting. the other day I was sitting next to someone in my office, it was getting funny times and I didn’t run, I said, oh, I gotta run because I got to go for a run. So I quickly changed and I’m in the office. He’s like, what do you mean you have to? And I didn’t realise my language I was using now some may say that’s extreme but in my view and that I had to do it because it was part of the commitment I made to myself to run x amount of kilometers a week because I identify as a runner, it’s part of who I am and I then serve that identity, right?

So the key is to start to do things to the point that they become who you are and what will happen is your habits and your behaviours and your actions will support your identity. And that could be negative too. That’s the thing doesn’t care if it’s good or bad. You actually start after a while. You actually start itching for a run. Don’t you like restless. Yeah, it just because, and then then there’s that whole going overboard, right? I mean there’s that piece too. And so you just manage that. But what happens is a lot of people don’t and I learned this through sobriety man. Except first of all, we need to stop accepting. We need to start accepting things are gonna be hard. The problem is is we all have this harder version. Yeah. We want it to be easy, fall in love with it being hard, once you start to fall in love with the hard stuff that’s like half the battle, that’s like Mark Devine says, win the battle before you start. Like win the battle in your mind. You’ve already won the battle in your mind because you’ve accepted it’s not gonna be easy.

This is the good place questions, Thomas. Good questions, my friend. Thank you. Have you got any goals at the moment? It’s an interesting when I was actually listening to a podcast earlier and you know, it’s all about smart goals and I realised I actually don’t have goals really, I have things I move towards. Like I forgot an idealised version of myself, like Mazzello, we call it the hierarchy of needs like actualised RJ maybe like with a halo and upon a mountain, but there’s a, there’s an idealised version of myself and I continually reflect on the activities I’m engaged with and are they aligning with the direction I want to go? Right. So some may say I have goals. Like I’ve got a, a short race in July and I’m training for that and I want to do like, I want to get the top three and whatever.

So I can guess their goals, but I don’t look at it that way because the training that I’m doing to get there is just, again, part of who I am. Does that make sense. So it’s not like I’ve got this goal to get to a race and do well, if the race will just come and as a function of all the training I do as who I am. I’ll just rock up to that race and aim to get top three. So I’ve been really reflecting and I’m just giving you an honest answer is to maybe I can optimise if I start to get really specific because I know it’s something that everyone talks about, but I’ve just never really done it well, I mean, I think that if you have a clear goal, it kind of helps you with the work side of it. But if you are already doing the work, you’re sort of providing the cause, which produces the effect. Would you say that applies? Yes. So, yes, and I would say I’ll give you this without a race without a race in like looming consistently right, like a 30K, 40K, 50K race.

I know that my training won’t be approached potentially with the same level of consistency and fervour, right? So that there is a goal there, that I’m ensuring is then keeping, you know, my activity that I need to do to be fit and blah, blah, blah on the path. I mean, nobody wants, I realised during covid, like I don’t want to be, you know, there’s no racist. Well, why am I running on a 40K training run on Sunday. Who the hell wants to do that, right? Like that’s, you know what I mean? Like it’s just madness. Get home, you’re tired. Kids are screaming at your wife, screaming at your like lay it out like, you know what I mean? So yeah. I mean, you’re right, you’re definitely right. You’re doing the work. That’s the main thing. Is there anything which I haven’t asked you about what you feel would be valuable for the audience?

No, Thomas. I think you’ve asked some really good questions. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. I think that you did the deep dive. Good. Well RJ Singh, where is the best place for people to find you? www.ultrahabits.co. I typically play on LinkedIn at RJ Singh but the website has all the podcasts and everything I’m doing there and yeah, like I said, I’m on LinkedIn at RJ Singh. You will find me hanging out there.

Cool. Thank you for all the value today.

Thanks for having me, Thomas.