Professor Pete Alexander has had a thirty-five year career that spans Sales and Marketing, being a college professor of Marketing, and running a small interior landscaping business called Office Plants by Everything Grows, where he’s still a majority owner. Professor Pete is also an expert in something that impacts all of our lives: stress.
Today, Pete joins the show to share tips and best practices for coping with stress, the role of eustress, and the importance of gratitude and visualization.
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00:55 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Pete Alexander, who joins the show to talk about how financial insecurity growing up instilled a fear-based money mindset
09:14 – The inspiration to write a book about stress
17:31 – Gratitude, visualization, and personal values
25:40 – Staggering statistics on stress and its effect on the body
30:10 – Understanding the LIGHTEN acronym
31:49 – Good stress vs. bad stress and the two flavors of stress
35:14 – One thing that a person under severe stress can do to reduce their stress levels and one thing to avoid doing
41:09 – One thing people don’t know about Pete that he would like them to know
43:10 – Jonathan thanks Pete for joining the show and lets listeners know where to connect with him
“What I learned was that, when you don’t manage your money properly, that has a very strong effect on your kids.” (02:45) (Pete)
“For me, my feeling is that I don’t want to be a burden for my kids. And so part of my strategy of ‘saving, saving, saving,’ is that I wouldn’t feel like I had to go ask them, down the road, if something happened to me.” (08:29) (Pete)
“I sat there and I thought, ‘Oh my God. I’m trading my health for my career.’ And that is a very bad trade because, if you think about it, the reality is when you think about a time when you were really sick, did you feel like doing anything other than lying in bed? Probably not. And when you’re in that state, you’re no good to your career, to your business, or to the people you love, because you have no energy.” (15:30) (Pete)
“Health became and remains the number one priority for me because, in my opinion, without your health, nothing else matters.” (23:32) (Pete)
“One thing that stood out to me when I started doing my research was that the World Health Organization (WHO) called stress the number one health epidemic of the 21st Century.” (26:46) (Pete)
“There actually is good stress, called eustress. That is stress where if you’re working on something that you are passionate or excited about, it’s the kind of stress that helps us get things done.” (31:52) (Pete)
“The energy that we project out there in the universe, we’re gonna attract that same polarity back. And so when we project out negative energy, we are retracting back like energy. But if we send out positive energy – guess what – we’re gonna attract back that positive energy.” (34:37) (Pete)
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Jonathan DeYoe: Hello, and welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with professor Pete Alexander. We call him Professor Pete. I’ve known Professor Pete for 15 or so years. I don’t really remember exactly when it was, but it was about 15, maybe 16 years. We met in a business networking group, and we’ve stayed kind of in loose contact ever since. He’s had a 35 year career that spanned sales and marketing, being a college professor in marketing, and running a small interior landscaping business called office plants by everything grows where he’s still the majority owner. The common thread across all of his roles was stress, and I wanted to have him on the podcast because life is hard, work is hard, business ownership is hard, teaching is hard, and we’re all stressed out completely. So his book, entitled lighten your day fast, easy, and Effective Stress, released, was published in 2019. Pete, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Pete Alexander: Jonathan, thank you so much for having me on the show, and I really appreciate your listeners time as well.
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, thanks, Pete. I’m looking forward to the conversation. So, first, just to set us up, where do you call home, and where are you connecting from today?
Pete Alexander: So I’m connecting from outside of Seattle. We call it the greater Seattle area, but I’m actually a, uh, Stone’s throw away from the Olympic national Park on the Olympic peninsula. So it’s a wonderful place to live, especially if you like hiking and backpacking and outdoorsy stuff.
Jonathan DeYoe: And where’d you grow up?
Pete Alexander: Grew up in the Bay area. East Bay, primarily. So Oakland, Alameda, graduate of Alameda High School.
Jonathan DeYoe: Oh, great. So growing up in the east Bay, Alameda, Oakland, what did you learn about money? Were there intentional lessons that your parents taught you or the things you just up on the way?
Pete Alexander: That’s an interesting one. So I learned, I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family. So what I learned was that when you don’t manage your money properly, that has a very strong effect on your kids. We had to move different times because there wasn’t money to pay rent. There were many times where we had no food in the house. Back in the day, the phone connected to the wall, it would just disconnect because we hadn’t paid our phone bill or we would have the calling and saying that they were going to evict us and stuff. So I learned that obviously, when you don’t manage your money, that there’s consequences to that. And it also created a lot of stress. And also, uh, for me personally as a kid growing up in that I learned how to try and cover it, uh, up to my friends in school because it was embarrassing as well.
Jonathan DeYoe: Wow, I think that’s a first here on the podcast. So how do those experiences translate into money beliefs today? Did you do work to sort of battle those back? Or how does that become who you are today with money?
Pete Alexander: Oh, it had a huge influence, because when you feel like you don’t know where the money is going to come from or if you’re even going to have any money, it creates this fear. And it really can be undermining. It absolutely can. And so for me, what it taught me was that I needed to save wherever I could. Because in the event that I lost my job or in the event that the economy completely crashed, whatever it is, where I couldn’t depend on whatever my money sources were, I needed to be able to fall back on something because I didn’t want to end up like what my parents did. And so my sister used to say that I would be the first millionaire that she knew. And I think that turns out to be the case because I just kept on saving as an employee. I went into those 401 plans. I just kept on putting as much money as I possibly could right from the start. Didn’t wait until my thirty s, forty s and fifty s to think, oh, you know what? Maybe I need to save something. And so I just kept on doing that, kept on doing that, kept on doing that, and that now allowed me to be able to live debt free later in life.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I’m really curious about this kind of scenario specifically because I was raised with very little. And so there’s this sort of scarcity mentality that sets in. And you’re right. You save, you save, you save. But I’m wondering, now that you are stable, as you said, you have assets in the bank, you’ve got your 401 ks, you got your ras. Does it ever creep up on you? Do you find yourself behaving in a way, like, oh, it’s all going to go away?
Pete Alexander: You mean, uh, as far as the scarcity mentality or that the money, does.
Jonathan DeYoe: The fear ever come back?
Pete Alexander: Yes, it does every now and then. And it is really more because of health care more than anything else. And the reason I say that is because if something happens to you physically, mentally or physically, and you really need extensive health care for that, that can be extremely expensive. And so that is one thing where I think, wow, okay, I do have health insurance, but what does it cover? What doesn’t it cover? Because you look at all the fine print and it’s very hard to see truly what it is that’s going to be covering. So that’s one thing. And I have a friend of mine who, he spent his whole career in sales, did very well, and then his wife got sick, and he spent the vast majority of, um, their nest egg trying to help her recover. She ended up passing away. And now he’s in, I don’t want to say scarcity mode, but he’s living very simply because he had to sell his house. He had to sell or cash in all of their investments. So it can be something that’s really devastating. And then you add to it as well. If you’re a parent, you’re always there as a support mechanism for your kids as well. And then for me, too. Ironically, when my, uh, mother was still alive, I was the sandwich generation because my mother was my oldest kid, because my dad didn’t save anything. My mom absolutely didn’t save anything. In fact, when she died, she had 32,000 in credit card debt because she thought it was okay to pay the bare minimum every month. And she had been doing that apparently for 15 years, 20 years, and so paying 2025, 30% interest, whatever it was, that was nuts. And then she had other debt as well. She was well over 60,000 in debt. And it’s really sad because all of her credit card creditors were coming after me and saying, oh, we’re looking for the, uh, estate, of which I love, because estate, to me, sounds like there’s actually some money there. And, uh, unless you want to consider the stuff that went to goodwill, she didn’t have anything that was worth saving, so it’s just nuts. And so there I was, supporting her with where she was living, supporting my kids. And that’s a really tough thing, too, because at least for me, my feeling is I don’t want to be a burden for my kids. And so part of my strategy of, uh, saving. Saving is that I wouldn’t feel like I got to go ask them down the road if something happened to me.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes, I’ve heard that story said many different ways, but, uh, one of my coaches told me once, if you ask a 40 year old, he’ll never understand this. A 50 year old might begin to understand it. Six year old, maybe. But a seven year old, if you give the seven year old the choice between dying today, like, not making through the day, or going across town to ask their kids for money, the seven year old will choose to die. Choose. I don’t want to ask. I don’t want to be a burden. So that’s a real thing, that the dignity of aging in place is, uh, important.
Pete Alexander: Absolutely.
Jonathan DeYoe: So, before we dig into the book, what made you write it? How did you get from all the things you did? Maybe I should write a book about stress.
Pete Alexander: Yeah. So I’ll give you a little bit background. So, basically, what happened with that family dysfunction? I grew up with stress, and I have had a lifelong experience together. And when I became an adult, I just learned how to try and ignore my stress, not deal with it, just ignore it. And then I was in my mid 40s. This is back in 2008, and I had a perfect storm of stressful activities happening to me. My dad was dying, and he needed his affairs to be taken care of. My mom at that point was having major, uh, surgery, and, of course, didn’t have insurance enough to cover for her physical therapy. She needed help, so she needed attention. My kids were pretty small at that time, wanting my attention. And I was running my business, and I had several employees. They needed my attention. And, oh, yeah, my marriage was heading for a divorce. So, needless to say, plenty of things on my shoulders. And then all of a sudden, I lost 30 pounds in 30 days. And at first, being in my mid forty s, I thought, this is fantastic. I hadn’t lost weight since my early 20s. Right. I’m thinking, this is great. I’m not doing any special exercise. I’m not doing any special dieting. No, nothing, right? And the weight kept on coming off. And so after the 30th pound came off, I thought, you know what? I better check this out. And blood work came back, and it said, right? And they said, guess what? You have stress induced diabetes. And I thought, first I said, what is diabetes? Because nobody in my family had that. And so then they said, yeah, stress induced. Because what I learned from the doctors is that technically, stress doesn’t immediately give you diabetes or heart disease or cancer or whatever happens. But what happens is one of those when stress, uh, continuously hits us where we’re not managing it properly and we’re dumping that cortisol into our systems over and over again. What ends up happening is it causes cellular inflammation. And that cellular inflammation is what leads to chronic disease. Well, as a classic entrepreneur and type a personality, what I did was I just said, okay, just give me the drugs, whatever I need. I don’t have time to deal with this. Keep on going. Right? We’ve got to love that. And so I continued to burn the candle at both ends for another ten years, and then I ended up in the emergency room with a severe case of, uh, diabetic ketoacidosis. And for those listeners who don’t know what that is, basically my body was eating itself alive because of my stress. And at that point, I realized, you know what? I don’t know what made me get this bad, but it was because I was ignoring all the signs. I mean, our bodies give us all these different signs, smaller signs, saying, you need to take care of this. Like, even before I got my diagnosis with diabetes back in 2008, my back would lock up to the point where I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t stand that feeling. And I was constantly sore and everything. And it didn’t matter because I said, uh, no, I had constant headaches. So what I had was the epiphany moment, because in the emergency room, they decided to transform me to my first and hopefully only experience in the ICU. And I was in the ICU for several days. And on my second day in ICU, I got this work email and a text that followed it. And I looked at that and I went, oh, I got to take care of that. That’s important. And so I started sitting there with my phone because, what a surprise. I didn’t have my laptop with me in the ICU. And I’m sitting there on my phone trying to respond to this because I had to reschedule a couple of things, and I’m trying to figure that out on my phone. And the nurse that was caring, uh, for me at that point, pretty much a complete stranger, she comes over and they were checking my blood every 30 minutes or so all through the night, 24 out of seven. So anybody who thinks, oh, you get some rest in the ICU, no, you don’t. That’s constantly poking and prodding you. And, uh, so I’m sitting there on my phone, blah, blah, blah, blah, like this. My numbers as a diabetic so glucose numbers, when I was admitted into, the numbers were so high that the medical grade glucometers could not read it. It just said high. So the lab, the hospital lab had to manually estimate, and they estimated that my numbers were eight to ten times higher than they should be. So on my second day in ICU, the numbers had come back down into more reasonable numbers. Not great, but they were still high, but reasonable in the point where, okay, so the glucometers can read it. And as, ah, the nurse takes my blood, it reads it, and it sees that all of a sudden, instead of going down like this, uh, like a 90 degree angle, it started skyrocketing back up. And she says to me, just a matter of factly, she says, you realize that’s what put you in this hospital bed in the first place. And it was like, finally, I knew this, but I needed to have somebody who had no skin in the game, let’s say, in my life to basically say, this is what’s going on. And I sat there and I thought, oh, my God, I’m trading my health for my career. And that is a very bad trade because, yeah, when you think about it, for any listener thinking about this, the reality is, when you think about a time when you were really sick, whether it was as an adult, whether it was a kid, think about that. When you were really sick, did you feel like doing anything other than lying in bed? Probably not. And when you’re in that state, you’re no good to your career, you’re no good to your business, you’re no good to the people you love, because you have no energy, nothing. And so when you trade your health for your career, or it’s just a very bad trade. And so after I got out of the hospital, I just decided I got to do something different, because if I don’t, I’m not going to be around that much longer. And so I started experimenting with different stress relief tools and techniques. And what I found was that not only did my stress go down, my glucose numbers as a Diabetic went down, my weight went down, and my energy level went way, way up. Jonathan, it was like I had found like a fountain of youth. And here’s the crazy thing. If you were to see a picture of me back in 2008, and you look at me now, other than a little bit more gray hair, I actually look younger today than I did 15 years ago. That’s what stress does to us. It’s nuts. And so I had friends, coworkers, family members, who all said, you ought to write a book about this. And so what I did was I ended up writing this book. And, um, it did well on Amazon. And so that was basically how I did it.
Jonathan DeYoe: So what were some of the steps you took? Like you said, okay, I’ve got to destress my life. You had the aha moment. What were some of the things that worked for you?
Pete Alexander: Well, one that I realized was gratitude. And I actually took a reframe with that and thought, okay, instead of taking the victim mode where, oh, this happened to me, I’m in the hospital and stuff, this is terrible. I realized, no, I should be thankful for this because I can still make a difference turning this around. So I was very grateful for that. And now gratitude is a daily exercise I do. I don’t just leave it for when I need it. I do it in the evening, a bare minimum, an activity in the evening where I ask my wife, what are you grateful for? And she asks, uh, me, what am I grateful for? And we recap whatever the great things that were during the day and what I mean, great. I’m not saying something that was just, wow, so big, like, ooh, I won the lottery or something like that. No, it’s like, okay, I had a conversation, like, I’ll tell you today, having the conversation with you, that’ll be one of my gratitude exercises tonight. I ran a laughter yoga class this morning, and it’s always fun. That’s going to be a gratitude exercise for me. It’s just simple things that I’m grateful for. That makes a huge difference. Another one is simple visualization. So what I find is that if I’m much better now at gauging when the stress, because we all get stressed, and when I start feeling the stress starting to rise, I take a deep breath and I basically close my eyes and I go to my happy place. And I think about all of my senses along with, uh, that. So if you go like, let’s say a lot of people, their happy places is the beach. And so what I do is I visualize being at the beach. And what do I feel? Do I feel the sun on my face? Maybe the sand under my feet? What do I smell? The fresh air, maybe some sea air. What do I hear? Maybe it could be the wind blowing through the trees, or maybe it’s the water splashing on shore. And what do I see? I see the blue sky or maybe the yellow of the sand or something like that. And so by doing integrating your senses into it, it becomes real. And then I take another deep breath and then I open my eyes. And what it does is it gives me this 1 minute refresh grounding exercise that allows me to now think, okay, so what do I need to do about this? Because too often when we try and make decisions when we are overly stressed, we make rash decisions that we may regret later. So visualization has been good. I mean, in the book, I list over 120 of them. And probably of the 120, I would say 80 of them helped, 40 of them didn’t. But, uh, what I found was that something that might work for me may not work for you and vice versa. Like, I know that you’re a huge meditator, and meditation is a fantastic thing. I got trained in dental meditation because that focus is primarily on not worrying about your mind getting distracted. Well, that’s good. But I wouldn’t say it’s my go to thing because my mind continues to wander and it’s like, okay, come on back, come on back. Other people, they love it. And so the way I think about it is figure out what works for you. Try different things. You don’t have to spend a ton of time on it, but once you find one or two things that work, run with it. Use it on a daily basis.
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, choose your own adventure. There’s all kinds of ways to do it. And you figure out what works for you and you stick with that.
Pete Alexander: Yeah. And the thing was that if you do it on a daily basis, the compound benefits over time will be enormous. But you got to do it. That’s the thing. You got to start doing it because it’s not going to happen. If you say, oh, yeah, I’ll get to it next week, next month, because you’ll never get to it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right. There’s a tension in this, though, because you’re talking about, I’m going to add 1 minute breathing exercise, and I’m going to add a gratitude exercise, and I’m going to add this other thing. But you’re already doing so much and you’re adding new stuff to do. So did you also go through and cut and slash, I don’t need to do this anymore. And how did that work? And then how did the people around you, your coworkers and peers, take it?
Pete Alexander: Well, so what I did, um, uh, and it goes back to my sales days early in my career. My calendar is my kind of Bible, I would say. And so if it’s in my calendar, that’s an important thing. And so what I did was my stress relief activities ended up being a daily calendar event. And so it would ping me and say, okay, you got to do this. So like, let’s say I’m busy working on something, I’m behind on something, and all of a sudden it pops up and it says, do this, go for a walk. It might be the visualization, something like that. And I had to put the mindset that it’s that important. It’s not going to get bumped because it’s so important to my health. And one of the things that I did as well as part of this renaissance that I did, was I did my personal values again, and I elicited all of those. And health became, and it remains the number one priority for me because in my opinion, without your health, nothing else matters. Um, that made putting it in the calendar and bumping or just eliminating things that did not rank up there with either my health or my other top, um, four of, uh, five personal values. Because that’s another thing that is really important, is if you’re clear about what your personal values are as it relates to your career, for example, the great thing about that is when you have an important decision that needs to be made, you can run it by your top five values. And if it’s not in alignment with one or more of those and you still make that decision, I guarantee you’re just adding unnecessary stress to yourself because you’re not being true to yourself. You’re just not. And so you’re just asking for it. So that is how I started managing this whole thing. And that when people saw that, wait a minute, this is not the same person that I, uh, remember getting all frustrated and stressed out and constantly responding to emails and texts at all hours of the night and day. It’s like, okay, I want to get an idea of how you were able to manage that. And that’s what I did. Am I perfect? No, but also as a, uh, perfectionist, that came from being that in a dysfunctional family where you can take different avenues. And I thought, okay, I got to be perfect to try and get out of here. As a perfectionist, one of the learnings that you have is that you don’t have to be perfect and don’t worry about it. Just do the best you can. Focus on what’s important and what’s not important. The nits get to them when you can, or just let them go.
Jonathan DeYoe: Let them go. So there’s a ton of pretty staggering statistics around stress and the effect of stress on the body. Did you do a bunch of research for this or is this mainly m just can you just kind of walk through some of the research happens if you get stressful.
Pete Alexander: Yeah. So we talked about the cellular, uh, inflammation that happens. And that if you think about our bodies. So our bodies are the same bodies that were back in the stone age. And stress back then, I wasn’t there. But let’s assume that stress back there was short term. So we were stressed, and we needed that fight or flight scenario to outrun a trex, a saber toothed tiger, something like that. Nowadays, what happens is we’re all mostly mentally stressed. And every time we get stressed up here, we dump that cortisol into our bodies. And as we continue to do that over and over again, it creates that cellular inflammation. Now, here’s the thing that’s interesting in terms of a couple different studies, and one of them is more recent that I did. But one thing that stood out to me when I started doing my research was that the World Health Organization called stress the number one health epidemic of the 21st century. And back when we were dealing with the, uh, early stages and first year of COVID everybody would have said, well, no, Covid is the number one health epidemic. Well, the who said, yeah, okay, so when you’re dealing with COVID and all the things that are out of your control with COVID what does that cause you? Stress, for sure, and doesn’t include all the other areas of stress. So number one health epidemic of the 21st century remains as is. And the other thing I have a statistic that I was just. I read about that was nuts. Let me just pull it up here. That was just something. I couldn’t believe it. So the American Psychological association, it found that 20. So this is a current study. I mean, this is within the last couple of months, they found that 27% of Americans are so stressed they cannot function. 83% are stressed about inflation, and 75% are stressed about violence and crime. I mean, that’s nuts. That’s absolutely nuts. It just shows that we got to do a better job of dealing with our stress. And one of the things that is, uh, a really interesting one that I found as part of my work, recovering myself as well as helping others. We talked about, uh, just a moment ago about, uh, Covid and all the things that were out of our control back. Remember when, oh, my gosh, I don’t want to be around somebody who might be contagious or, oh, that person may not be wearing a mask or that person is wearing a mask. However that you took the whole mask mandates. The reality is, when we have to deal with a very serious stressful event. What we as humans do, we tend to stress about all aspects of that stressful event. And if we can mentally do this, imagine whatever that is. So let’s take that Covid back then and say, okay, what is it about COVID that I can control? And what is it about COVID that I can’t control? So you have two lists, and you write those two lists down, and then you do as much as you can to focus all of your attention on what you can control. What happens is, if you can do that, instead of 50% being spent on what I can’t control, 50% on what I can control, if I can do closer to 100% on what I can control, naturally our stress goes down, because when we feel like we have more control, it ends up, um, helping us to get things done. And we feel like, okay, now I feel less stressed. And it’s just a mindset thing of being able to say, you know, what? What is it I can’t control and be okay not worrying about it.
Jonathan DeYoe: So in the book you talk about, you have the book structured around different areas of stress. Is there an area that stands out to you as, like, the one that most people experience, that most research is about, or one that really stands out that you run into the most?
Pete Alexander: Yeah. So the lighten is actually an acronym. It’s a seven letter acronym for the areas of life, a person’s life that causes the most stress. So l is for livelihood or career. I call it imagination because it’s where your creativity is. It’s your conscious mind, where guess what your inner critic is. And, uh, your inner critic is only 5% of your brain. But we all know how powerful that inner critic is. The g I call your genius, which is your unconscious mind. That’s where our habits are formed, our memories are stored, and it’s actually where real change happens, if we can get it to change in our unconscious. M and then h is for physical health. T is for time. Other than our health, time is the biggest resource.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right?
Pete Alexander: I mean, we only have a limited amount of time on this earth. So that one, a stressor, e is our environment. So if we do not have an environment that’s conducive to being productive or just having a serenity, that’s going to be a problem. And then n is our network of relationships, both our personal and professional ones. And where the stress typically comes mostly from people is either in the livelihood, career, the time aspect, or the relationships. Those are the three big ones.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I bet. Uh, is all stress bad, or is there good stress?
Pete Alexander: No, there actually is good stress. So the good stress, which is called ustress. E-U-S-T-R-E-S-S that is stress. Like, if we’re working on something that we are passionate about, excited about, it’s the kind of stress that helps us get things done. So you got a deadline coming up, okay. But you’re working on something that you really enjoy. So it might be, uh, a new passion project that you’re working on, and, you know, you’ve got to get some deliverable. Yeah, you can be a little bit stressed about getting that done, but it’s good stress because it’s what you want to be doing. So that’s one way where you stress is, or stress itself is actually very helpful. Where I have found stress being really problematic. It comes in two flavors. We always, like, we go to the ice cream parlor. We want to have a variety of flavors. So stress comes in two flavors that are most problematic. One is ruminating about the past, and this is commonly with guilt. We’re either guilty about something we did or we didn’t do in the past, and we keep ruminating about that. Well, guess what? It’s in the past. We cannot change it. We can learn from it. But if we continue to beat ourselves up, uh, and ruminate in the past, it just creates unnecessary stress. We’re all human. We make mistakes. And the other flavor is anxiety about something in the future that may or may not happen. That’s the key. May or may not happen. So how many times have, uh, I talked to people who were absolutely terrified about a conversation that they had to have with someone and thinking, oh, it’s going to go terribly, it’s going to be awful, blah, blah, blah. Well, when you’re sending that kind of energy out to that future activity, you often manifest that negative energy into something happening like that. But instead, what happens is if you can think about it and go, okay, let’s say you’re thinking that it’s going to be a bad conversation. Whether it’s with a loved one, coworker, your boss, uh, an employee, you have whatever it happens to be. Instead of thinking about it going awful, think about 30 seconds after that conversation is done, and whoever that person is that you’re talking to, they either give you a hug, you shake their hands, they’re smiling, whatever it is, you imagine that, and all of a sudden, guess what? Oh, now the stress goes down. And you know this very well, Jonathan. The energy that we project out there when we’re stressed and we’re sending that negative energy out to the universe, we’re going to attract that same polarity back. And so when we project out negative energy, we are attracting back like energy. But if we send out positive energy, guess what? We’re going to attract back that positive energy. So it’s a mindset way of saying, I’m not going to worry. I know that this is important conversation, but who’s to say it’s going to go bad? I am going to assume it’s going to go good. And you walk into that conversation in much better mindset.
Jonathan DeYoe: So there’s an enormous amount of noise out there, like certain kind of coffees, you can do that improve your ability to concentrate. There’s just all kinds of stuff out there, modern garbage stuff. So I really want to help people out. One of the points of the podcast is to really help people out that are in the scenarios we’re talking about. So if you meet someone that’s just under severe stress, and I only have time to do one thing, one thing, what’s one thing that they can do that will reduce their stress level?
Pete Alexander: Do the values exercise. It’s a ten minute exercise, and it will have life altering effects. And what I can do is I’ve got a, uh, video that I can send you the link to that you can include with the podcast, and they can just do that. And it is an amazing activity that once you have your identified top values, then anytime you start getting stressed about something going on, just take a quick look at your values, how is this aligned? And you can ask, is it on the list? Is it on the list? Is it in alignment? And if it is, then that’s okay. But if it’s not, now you got to think about that and say, okay, is this the right thing for me to be doing?
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m curious if you ran into, uh, in the research portion, I don’t know, you said 120 different things. Did you run into any that people talked about and saying, oh, this is the greatest thing, you should try this, and it didn’t work. It didn’t work for anyone you talk to. Is there anything out there that people are hearing here, do this to destress? And it just is absolutely false, they should ignore it?
Pete Alexander: Yes. So there is one. Everybody thinks that multitasking is a good thing.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes.
Pete Alexander: And multitasking can be disastrous to your stress in terms of negatively affecting your stress. And the reason being is because when there’s this research study that was fantastic about this, so it did this study where it said okay. The average worker often has, like, let’s, uh, say five projects. They’re working on it at one time. And so let’s imagine that we have our entire mindset for the workday. And what happens is that if we focus on one thing and we do that until it’s finished, well, it’s going to have no issues because we’re focused and we get it done. But what happens is, and this is what is so often, um, forgotten about or not even realized about, with multitasking. For every additional project that we’re just tapping and doing this and doing that, going back and forth, what happens is there is a ramp up and a ramp down time in between each of those projects. That’s wasted time.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right?
Pete Alexander: And so if you talk about five projects, basically, the research showed that 80% of your mind share is wasted in between the ramp up and ramp down, which leads 20% of, uh, your mind share time for five projects. So guess what? If you have five projects, you’re only giving 4% to each project. That’s nuts. And the chances are more likely that when you’re doing that little bit of mind share towards each project, you’re making more mistakes with it. And so then when you make mistakes, what happens? You got to go back and spend more time on it. So multitasking is horrible. And, I mean, I know people who say that they think, oh, I’m great. I’m sitting here at my desk, and I’m eating my lunch, and I’m checking my emails, and I’m responding to text and everything like that. You’re not doing any of those any good. You’re just not do one.
Jonathan DeYoe: Have you heard the Einstein quote about multitasking?
Pete Alexander: No, I haven’t.
Jonathan DeYoe: He says, if Einstein says, if you can safely drive a car while you’re kissing a girl, you’re not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
Pete Alexander: Yes, that is exactly right. And, you know, it’s interesting, too. On that same note, you know how we’re in a, uh, especially with the younger generations, but everything is about our phones, right? Our smartphones. Well, how many times? I have a lot of gratitude for whenever I go out to a restaurant, because during COVID we couldn’t go to a restaurant. So it took it for total granted up until then. But now what I do as well is if I’m in a restaurant, I will look around and just see how many people are there sitting on their phones instead of having a conversation. And I think to myself, well, if they’re not talking, why don’t they just get takeout because they’re not enjoying the experience of the restaurant. And so I always recommend if you’re going to go out to dinner or lunch with somebody important, whether it’s a loved one or a friend, a coworker who you want to have a conversation with, turn the phones off.
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, yes. Don’t put them on the table.
Pete Alexander: No, turn them off. Because anytime that if you got your phone on the table and then you pick it up because you felt a buzz from, uh, a text, what are you telling the person on the other side of the table from you?
Jonathan DeYoe: Totally important.
Pete Alexander: You’re not as important as whatever this text is, and so it just takes you away. So important to leave the phones off. Uh, what I like to do, I like to actually leave my phone in the glove compartment of the car before I walk into the restaurant.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yes. Good call.
Pete Alexander: Yeah. And if somebody says, oh, what, uh, happens if that person calls? Well, call them back after your dinner. Exactly.
Jonathan DeYoe: So just, I want to go back to the personal really quick. Is there anything that people don’t know or maybe don’t remember you’ve told them and they don’t remember about you? That’s really important to you that they know?
Pete Alexander: Well, I haven’t talked a lot about it, but what I have found is that when you’re able to give back, that is a wonderful stress reliever. So, for me, one of the things that is prominent for me, giving back, I got, uh, certified as a laughter yoga instructor. And laughter yoga is no, it has no yoga mats. It originated in India back in 1995 by a Dr. Kataria. And basically what it does, uh, is you just do activities via laughter and get the positive endorphins in your body. And what I really, really want people to remember, in addition to the fact of not trading your health for your career, because that’s a very bad trait, is to remember how beneficial a laugh is. And the secret sauce, uh, to laughter yoga, here it is. Secret sauce is, if you think about how great it feels with a hearty laugh, our bodies, as smart as they are, they don’t know the difference between a real, uh, true laugh. And let’s just say we’re just going for ten to 15 seconds. It only knows that we’re laughing. And the positive endorphins come out, whether it’s a real laugh or it’s a fake laugh. And so if you are feeling stressed, even if you sat there in your chair and let’s say you were in an office and you didn’t want people to hear you, you could even do it as your body is going to know it and it’s going to give you those endorphins. And laughter is an amazing therapeutic tool. Absolutely. And that all ages will appreciate that. So that’s something I highly recommend people do as well.
Jonathan DeYoe: So tell us how people can connect with you in case they want to find you.
Pete Alexander: Sure. So I’m active primarily on LinkedIn Professor Pete Alexander. And, uh, I’m also on Facebook and Twitter and, uh, not so much on Instagram because I actually respond to manually. I don’t have a bot responding to stuff, so I try and limit the number of social media channels I have, but that’s way to go. And then I also am on YouTube, which the link that, uh, will share with the audience that will take you to the YouTube channel. And by all means, subscribe to that channel, because then you’ll get anytime I add a new video, uh, I’ll get a copy of that too.
Jonathan DeYoe: You heard it, everyone. Subscribe to the YouTube channel. That’s where you get the new stuff. So, Pete, thanks for coming on. I appreciate the message sharing with us about how to de stress. Very important. We’ll make sure all that stuff’s in the show. Notes.
Pete Alexander: Well, thank you, Jonathan. I really appreciate you having me on the show, and I really appreciate your listeners’time as well.
Jonathan DeYoe: Thanks, man.