Learning from today’s thought leaders and authors.
July 20, 2013
An exclusive interview with Trevor Blake by Daniel R. Murphy-
Murphy: Thank you Trevor for speaking with us about your new book, Three Simple Steps. This book provides a fresh look at success and how to achieve it, but this book is also about you, your life, your thinking and your approach to success that has worked so well for you. Would you agree?
Blake: Not entirely, Daniel. I wrote Three Simple Steps because the lack of authenticity in self-help success books is an issue. So many of even the best selling books like Think and Grow Rich or The Secret were written by people who had never tasted success before their book went viral for some reason. What makes Three Simple Steps authentic is that the principles are the only advantage I have had in life and I used them to achieve a life of success before writing about what it takes to succeed. To round out that authenticity I felt it necessary to illustrate the principles with personal stories. I didn’t need to write this book and all my profits go to cancer R&D so it took a bit of effort on behalf of the publisher to get me to reveal my personal life so much.
Murphy: So we need to learn a bit about you to get the most out of this book. You were born in the UK and had a challenging youth, can you tell us a bit about that and how it helped form the ideas you write about?
Blake: I grew up poor and as a family we were evicted three times before I was seven. When I was eight my mother was given six months to live. My dad went a bit loopy and never worked again. After the third eviction I found myself in a foreign country where my background and poverty made me a target for sectarian bullying… quite severe at times. One of the places I knew my tormentors would not go was the public library so I used to hang out there. That is where I started reading biographies of the self-made and it changed my life. I realized that others had as difficult and mostly more challenging starts in life but refused to use it as an excuse for mediocrity. They went on the change the world, and it inspired in me a desire to do likewise in my own small way.
Murphy: Your mother is such a strong and positive influence in your life. You write about her in the book. She sounds like such an amazing woman. Can you tell us a bit about her influence on you?
Blake: All of my business success I attribute to lessons she taught me. From 8 to 18 I grew up in a rural outpost of 120 residents, but at her funeral 300 people attended. At the funeral people I had never met before came up to me with stories of how she had changed their lives. She did amazing things and always anonymously. That is the best testimony of the influence a person has had in life. But I was also at her side as a youngster when she told first the doctors and then God that she had no intention of accepting their prognosis. She said she needed more time to see her three kids grow up and safely leave the nest and nothing was going to stop her. In her eyes I saw for the first time what unshakeable belief looks like and whenever I face a big challenge I conjure that image.
I recently completed the screenplay of her story and it is to be a major motion picture in 2-3 years. Several A list actors are signed on but I am not allowed to reveal anything.
Murphy: You grew up in the difficult post WWII period in England. How did that environment influence your thinking?
Blake: The two world wars had a big impact on every working class family in the UK. At school anyone with a surviving grandfather was a subject of suspicion, such was the impact of all those lost young men. My father’s father was blinded in Ypres and gassed in the Somme. He died of symptoms when I was little. My mother’s father was vaporized in front of her eyes by a daylight bombing raid. Both my parents had their homes destroyed by incendiary bombs as they huddled in craters dug in the bottom of their gardens. They were half starved and learned to cook every last scrap of food. Those experiences were ingrained and so as kids we grew up almost as if the war was still being waged. They could never shake the habit of rationing.
Today I still find the wastefulness all around abhorrent and it has influenced my business style. I have built four successful businesses, selling two for over $100 million each, but in all that time have never leased an office, had a personal assistant or hired a single employee. To do so would feel wasteful to me.
Murphy: Let’s talk about the book now. You tell us that you are not a “self-help guru” but a very practical businessman and you are dedicating all the profits from the book to charity, cancer research I think. Why did you write the book?
Blake: In the first place it is important to give back. I am grateful for my adventures and wish only that others can have even half as much fun. Secondly, I have taught these steps in a less concise format for years and watched people’s lives transform. It is a joy to watch. So, after seeing yet one more self-important, self-loving self-help guru promote his latest self help book, I decided to take on the challenge of putting a real book out there. The proof of the pudding is in its eating and I now get emails from all over the world, not just one liners, but pages and pages of excited anecdotes of how people’s lives have changed by implementing the steps. The book is not 11 months old and I have received not one negative email. The steps work and for everyone.
Murphy: You describe Three Simple Steps in the book. If I may be a bit argumentative here, would you agree that it is a bit of an over simplification to say that these steps are simple or that there are only three? For example doesn’t each step require a number of steps to complete?
Blake: In all cultures the number three is very powerful. Any complex concept such as the holy trinity, the yin-yang dao, sun moon and earth can be understood enough to be used when it is broken down into its three key elements. So it is with success, three simple steps are all that are needed to understand. Having said that, like any concept, while simple to assimilate it is far from easy to perform. Any concept requires discipline and sacrifice and stepping out of one’s comfort zone to be applied successfully. You are correct in that any of the three elements can then be broken down further into three keys, and each of those three keys into a further three and so on. But it is not necessary to get that depth of understanding. We can all use a TV by the three steps of the on/off switch, the channel change button and the volume control. Simple. We don’t have to understand the science of plasma manufacturing to get it. But if that science interests you then you can go deeper and deeper into any element.
Think of a real step like standing on the first rung of a ladder. You accomplish it without conscious thought but if you studied the process you’d need to understand anatomy, physiology and reflexology just to figure out how the muscles contract ad bones bend. The beauty of the Three Simple Steps is that you don’t need to understand how they work. You don’t even need to believe in them. Just do them. They follow the laws of physics and physics does not need anyone’s belief or in depth understanding to be physics.
Murphy: The reader who has read deeply in success literature will recognize most of your writing as very similar to a lot of traditional success theory. You write about having read a lot of biographies of successful people as a youth. Have you also read a lot of success literature in general?
Blake: I have probably read every self help book that was popular since 1750 and consigned most of them to the trash can. My mother always said “If you want to learn to cook go see a chef not a food critic.” Sound advice. If you want to know how to succeed speak to or read about those who have succeeded… not those who have observed people succeeding. Subtle but key difference.
Murphy: Tell us a bit about all those biographies. How powerful of an influence were they for you?
Blake: I realized that self made man and women, no matter their backgrounds, no matter their dreams all exuded the same three behaviors: control of mentality, grounding process to create moments of insight that changed everything for them, and a finely tuned intuition aligned to targeting/Intentions. I was young and naïve enough to think that if they worked for Einstein, Emerson, C J Walker, Colt et al then who was I to deny that they could work for me. I simply did the same and have never looked back.
Murphy: You are a practical businessman with a proven track record. Has your application of the ideas in the book to your work been an evolutionary process and if so tell us a bit about that?
Blake: I have polished the three steps over time but at their core they are the same as when I was 20 years old. I have also studied physics and neuroscience and in understanding how they flow with natural laws and also dovetail with our latest understanding of neuroscience I have enhanced them so that they are more direct and powerful. These are not esoteric principles but scientific laws.
Murphy: You talk about the law of attraction in the book, but you describe it in a more pragmatic fashion then we commonly see. Many books depict it as a sort of magical spell that one can cast upon the universe to get whatever one wants without discussing the effort that must be put forth to achieve. You have a different take on it; can you distinguish for us the difference from your experience with the law of attraction from what we often see in popular literature?
Blake: The law of attraction is a fanciful notion for the lazy of mind. (Always check the background of any author who proclaims the law of attraction) Prior to the law of attraction the vogue was the warrior’s approach. Both approaches are at the extremes of a continuum. One says sit in a chair and wait until it arrives. The other says go out and conquer. To survive of course we need the skills to hunt and gather, but we also need the finely tuned intuition to sense danger and notice opportunities. Balance is the key to success. Balance between the law of attraction and the warrior’s way. The aim is to become a wizard of sorts, a creator of anything anytime you decide you want it.
Murphy: Your first chapter is Reclaiming Your Mentality. How poorly do most people control their mentality and how crucial is it in achieving success?
Blake: Most people are sound asleep and unaware of the fact. Step one aims to wake us up. One cannot become self made if the decisions one makes are based on the opinions and ideas of other people and the media in one’s environment. We must get back to the individual we were born as, the one who had that pioneering spirit that has been gradually dumbed down over the years by the environment around us. No breakthrough idea ever came out of groupthink. No brilliant business person ever got that way by swimming with the tide or following everyone else’s advice. Taking back control of mentality is the essential first step and is liberating
Murphy: You have on many occasions followed your own counsel despite heavy criticism from others, often your own family. How difficult has this been to do and has it become easier over time as you have seen it work so well.
Blake: It is easy once one gets to grip with step one.
Murphy: One gets the impression that your wife has been a solid and supportive influence in your life. She has stood by you through every risk you’ve taken. How important has that been to your success?
Blake: They say that behind every successful man is a surprised woman! My wife has great intuition and that has been a terrific resource for me while I was working on fine tuning my own. But I have not relied on her support. The decisions I have taken were for my life and my dreams. She has taken decisions and risks for her own life and dreams. Fortunately for us we keep bumping into each other. Neither of use had expectations of each other. We are as happy sleeping on a park bench as a penthouse suite, so we never needed the support of each other. I say to her go ahead and jump as much as she says it to me.
Murphy: There are thousands of books on goal setting. Universities teach it, business consultants preach it and many write about it. You have a different approach. You are critical of using goals and instead tell us that we should use intentions. First, how are intentions different from goals?
Blake: Goal setting is based on the industrial age and the techniques taught come from 200 years ago when even the basic laws of physics were not understood. There is a reason most people get frustrated with goal setting… they oftentimes work against the natural flow of energy. Intention are targets with all doubt about their attainment removed. Step three shows how to do that.
Murphy: Second, do you think there is any role at all for goal setting in life? If so what might that be?
Blake: Goals are no different than setting forecasts and budgets. They have a role in our lives. But goals will not get you to your dreams. They are not powerful enough.
Murphy: Where did you lean about intentions as opposed to goals?
Blake: Trial and error and then an in depth scientific research into what made the successes work.
Murphy: One gets the impression in reading this that you’ve done a lot of deep thinking on this subject. There is a powerful creative insight to your work. What do you attribute this to? Is it largely the result of your quiet time practice? How much time do you spend just thinking and reflecting on these things?
Blake: It has been my life. I have a degree in physics and have continued to study for 25 years quantum theory and string theory. I am also a perpetual student of neuroscience. Three Simple Steps is the culmination of a lifetime of rumination.
Murphy: The business world can be very dogmatic in its approach to decision making and creative pursuit. You cite highly successful business pioneers such as Steve Jobs as examples of people who have bucked the traditional business models. Is it possible to use the approaches you write about as an employee in a traditional business or do you really have to start your own business to really do this well.
Blake: Rare if the person who gets rich working for someone else.
Murphy: You discuss the power of three in your book and you’ve presented your ideas here under three rubrics. Is there something magical about three or is it just a convenient number to keep things simple?
Blake: It is a magical number and success is magic. That sounds new-age but everything is magic. Take a blank canvass a piece of charcoal and move your hands to make a picture. Take butter, sugar and flour and make a delicious cake. Or pick up the remote and switch on the TV… wow, magic! We tend to think of magic as mystical, but it is quite pragmatic. Anything can seem mystical until it is revealed for the simplistic thing it is.
Murphy: You discuss the importance of controlling your mentality and your reactions to outside stimuli using a “Situation + Thought + Reaction” paradigm. Using somewhat different terminology we see this same discussion in writings by Jack Canfield, Stephen Covey and Napoleon Hill for example. Were you influenced by these traditional success writers or did you arrive at this independently?
Blake: I actually disagree with those writers. Those writers promote the power of positive thinking. There is no such thing because our thoughts happen at the speed of light. We do not have time to step between something we don’t like and the thought we have about it. Positive thinking is a silly and unscientific illusion. The only thing we have control over is how we then react to the thoughts we had. Reaction is the key and that is what step one discusses.
Murphy: You discuss the importance of controlling and filtering out negative stimuli in our lives, such as negative people and much of the sensational news media. Has this been difficult? Do we have to simply risk alienating people to protect ourselves?
Blake: It is a life-long endeavor and yes you will indeed alienate people and the sooner the better. The latest neuroscience data presented in the book shows that the brain works more like a muscle than we previously understood. It is an addiction machine and locks onto anything that can feed that addiction. The more it is exposed to specific stimuli the more it craves the same. Hence we find that if we are surrounded by complainers and do nothing about it we become a complainer ourselves. If we dose up on emotional news headlines we wire our neurons in such a way that we start to create the images we see as our reality. We have to learnt o brake the neural connection and rewire our 100 billion neurons. That is anything but easy.
Murphy: Not to pander here, but you are obviously a very intelligent and thoughtful person. Can your approach really work for anyone? Is it applicable for the artisan, the number crunching accountant, the over worked CEO or the shop keeper who sells groceries every day?
Blake: Whether 8 or 80 you can start implementing the three simple steps today and completely change your life. I recently received an email from someone who said the steps had got him off his backside and to start a project he had been procrastinating about for years. He then revealed he is 88. A 13 years old Sri Lankan girl who was contemplating suicide due to family bullying is now an award winning dancer. A lonely, depressed IT worker just sent me pictures of his bride. The intelligence I have applied is in understanding the science behind each step, just like someone had to learn plasma science to make the first plasma TV. But anyone can then use the TV and anyone can now use the three simple steps.
Murphy: In addition to success your book discusses the quality of life. You talk about being aware of your surroundings, connecting with nature, slowing down to reflect, meditation, etc. Would you agree that these things not only may enhance the creative spirit in us but may also simple improve and enrich our experience of life? Is that part of your message?
Blake: Balance is essential and comes naturally as a result of implementing the three steps in sequence. Balance comes from personal, lifestyle, business, financial, health and hobby Intentions for which the three simple steps all apply.
Murphy: You are a risk taker. How important is it to success to be willing to take risks?
Blake: Other people would call me a risk taker because they do not understand that I have and trust my intuition. The Three Simple Steps help enhance that connection between intuition and decision making so that even though something may seem illogical with what is known at the time, it does not feel at all risky. I have never taken a risk as such because my intuition was screaming at me to jump.
Murphy: You discuss our roles as Wizards and Warriors. This might well resonate well with a generation who grew up reading Harry Potter. How does this work though for the hardnosed businessperson?
Blake: Most traditionally structured businesses prize the warrior mentality and use analysis and consensus to reach decisions. Intuition is rarely as prized in what is an unfortunately male dominated arena. A warrior may break through a castle wall to steal a loaf of bread whereas a wizard will find a recipe and bake his/her own. Consensus and hierarchical structures do not allow for genius so the hardnosed businessperson has to break away from traditional structures and thinking. Most great companies are built by wizards and oftentimes when they step aside warrior managers take over and before long the company fails. I have lots of such examples in my next book The 4% Company due out next year.
Murphy: Your professional life has been almost exclusively in the businesses related to medical work. A large part of your work has been in the pharmaceutical field. How has this influenced your thinking?
Blake: Not much. I have worked in the military, a hospital, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and media. I found the same patterns of behavior, waste and group sleepiness in them all.
Murphy: Let’s return for a moment to the concept of success. Part of your book seems to discuss success in terms of business or commercial success and therefore about money. Yet you cite many examples, including your own mother, of people who achieved tremendous success in life without ever building financial wealth. What is success to you? Tell us about the relative roles of personal success and commercial success? Are they simple two forms of the same thing or are they fundamentally different?
Blake: Success for me is waking up in the morning with butterflies of excitement in my stomach about the day ahead. I have never sought wealth specifically and it is not a means to happiness. I have sought travel and adventure and building companies that make a positive difference in people’s lives. Money comes as a material reward for those endeavors, but money is just another form of energy. It flows. It comes in, it goes out. So long as I am having fun and making a positive difference nothing else matters. I don’t think about it.
Murphy: You are pretty hard on some traditional success authors such as Napoleon Hill. You are critical of Hill because you say he never achieved financial success on his own. He suffered a long series of personal failures. He never became truly rich. Yet one might say that he did achieve the success he sought out to achieve. From his youth he sought fame. He wanted the world to listen to what he had to say. He wanted to learn the “science of success” from those who had succeeded and then pass that on to others. In that sense, wasn’t he a great success? His books have sold in the millions and his name is very well known. Is that a form of success?
Blake: Hitler is also a very well-known name. If one studies Hill’s real story and not the Internet myth one discovers a charlatan, a snake oil salesman who died a deeply unhappy man and despised by his family. His wife wrote a bestseller called “How to Find the Perfect Man” which was published just after their divorce. He died alone and in poverty. Clement-Stone set up a foundation in his name so technically the day after he died he became rich. His book (originally titled Use your noodle to get the boodle) has sold over 70 million copies, but he got the contract for publication by fooling an editor into thinking he was a success. He used his last few dollars to hire a hotel suite and bribe the bellhops into interrupting his interview with fictitious telegrams from the rich and famous. Anything founded on such shaky principles has to be viewed with suspicion. But it is not the only snake oil book that has sold millions after some excellent marketing. Most are marketed to a largely Christian audience and the same feel good ideology resonates with that audience. I don’t think I am hard on him because I tell the truth. I am saying that if you want to learn how to succeed study the successful not the spectators.
Murphy: You have a website. What can readers learn from that site?
Blake: http://trevorgblake.com is a helping hand for anyone introducing the Three Simple Steps to their life. The winner’s path can be a lonely one for reasons explained in the book, so I put out articles and podcasts with tips and encouragement.
Murphy: You mention in your book that you plan to write another book on succeeding with a virtual business. You launched your own company using outsourcing extensively rather than creating a large brick and mortar structure. When can we expect the new book and can you tell us a bit about it?
Blake: It should be out next year and it is about how to start a business in the right way and survive long enough to hit a home run. Of the 27 million businesses in the United States half fail every 5 years due to cash flow mismanagement. The 4% Company shows how to avoid making the same errors.
Murphy: What is the future for Tevor Blake? Will we see more books on your ideas about success? Will most of your energy remain with starting new businesses? How far into the future do you plan?
Blake: I do not plan anything. I set Intentions and let life fill in the details. Much more fun and relaxing way to live and that is what the Three Simple Steps teaches. I have the movie “Audrey” in the hopper and that will be a great new experience over the next couple of years. I also have a couple of books I am working on now, one of which is fictional. I will be divesting my third company next year.
Murphy: If there was one powerful success idea that you would like to leave our readers with what would it be?
Blake: It is never too late and there is never a bad time to reinvent yourself.
Murphy: Trevor, I again want to thank you so much for talking to us about your great book. Is there anything else you would like readers to know or think about?
Blake: All my profits go to cancer research & development… not to a charity as I am leery of some with their highly paid executives. If you go to the trouble of spending 10 dollars on this book you have a right to know that your hard-earned cash is going to do some good. All my profits go directly into the lab of a not for profit, non-employees cancer development program.
Title and Author: Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake
Copyright holder: 2012 by Trevor Blake
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Read more about Tevor Blake and his book at:
Read the Books2Wealth book review at: link here
This interview is copyright protected by Daniel R. Murphy 2013. For permission to reproduce this article or any part thereof contact the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org .