Geoff Woods | Live Life by Design Not by Default

As someone looking to make a big change in your life by investing in a franchise, you’ll sympathize with Geoff Woods’ story. Geoff was making good money in sales… but was unfulfilled and dreamed of starting his own business.

But he was comfortable at his job and quitting seemed risky. Then a pivotal moment came that compelled him to go out on his own. He says the foundation of his success was the mentors who helped him along the way as well as a key change in his thinking about himself and his purpose.

We talk about where to find your mentors, what your new success mindset looks, how to build a sustainable business, and more, including…

  • Big questions you must ask yourself in the beginning of this process
  • The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make as their business grows
  • Why you can’t just change your outlook on work and business, without changing your life
  • The danger of spending your time, not investing it – and practical tips for staying focused
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Giuseppe Grammatico: Welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast. I’m your host, Giuseppe Grammatico, your franchise guide, and today we have a very special guest. We’re speaking with Geoff Woods. Geoff is the vice president of The One Thing and hosts The One Thing Podcast, which is in the top 5% of podcasts in the world. After hearing Jim Rohn’s quote, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Geoff sets out on a mission to surround himself with fellow CEOs and successful entrepreneurs. Fast forward. Geoff went from employee to entrepreneur launching a company with the co-author of the best-selling book, The One Thing. Geoff has been featured in and is on a mission to teach people how to take back control and their time and get clarity on how they invest it. Geoff, welcome to the show.

Geoff Woods: Giuseppe, the pleasure is mine. Thank you for having me.

Giuseppe: Very, excited. I actually, as we were speaking before, heard you on another podcast and I said wow. We definitely have to get Geoff on the show. Some really good stuff to say. And yeah, definitely very excited for this. So let’s jump right in. First question. I always like to kind of do a little intro. Our audience, as we discuss, are a lot of current franchise owners and I would say the others are people looking to invest and career transition into their first business. So if you can fill the audience a little bit on your background. You know, how did you get into the business you’re in and what does that journey look like?

Geoff’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Geoff: Sure. So prior to co-founding this company, I was in medical device sales, which was a fantastic job. I was living in Southern California running through hospitals every day selling a device that saved lives. I tried to get my wife to call me McDreamy. She’d say no. And I think like a lot of your listeners, Giuseppe, I was in a place in my life where even though things were good, something was missing. Even though my, I have a great work-life balance, I’ve got a healthy income, all that is good, I was lacking fulfillment.

And I think part of that is because ever since I was a kid for some reason I had this vision of me waking up one day owning a business that would make a massive impact in the world and deliver real security for my family. The problem was, I didn’t have enough pain in my life to force me to make a change. And I say that because life was so comfortable that the thought of quitting a lucrative sales job to go venture out on your own seemed risky and I’ve got a family. And so I just didn’t have enough pain to force me to take the action. Well, two things changed.

First, a colleague of mine had a stroke. And he was 35 years old at the time. I remember standing in my kitchen, wondering if what happened to my colleague had happened to me, what would happen to my family. We’ve just bought a house in Orange County. My wife and I just had our first child and my wife decided to become a stay at home mom. All of this happened at the same time. And then the very next week, my company needed to make a change to our commission structure in order to remain competitive in the marketplace.

The result was I lost 40% of my income, which for anybody who has had a big pay cut or a devastating job loss, this rocked me to my core. And it was at that time that I heard this Jim Rohn quote, that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And Giuseppe, I remember standing in my kitchen looking down at my scrubs and asking the question, Who are my five? Who are the five people I actually spend the most time with? And I got out a pen and a piece of paper and I wrote down the names.

And when I looked at the names, I felt gratitude. Amazing people, dear friends, people, I always want to be in my life. And then I had an aha moment, which was, I was seeking guidance on how to build a business from people who are not qualified to give it. And that set me out on a mission, a mission to surround myself with mentors who were already where I wanted to be. Those friends are still in my life, I simply redefined the relationship. They were my friends. They were not my mentors.

And by surrounding myself with people, I launched a podcast called The Mentee where I was literally pressing record on private conversations with my mentors. It was a few weeks after I launched the show it was our national sales meeting. And I remember walking into the room, big ballroom, 1500 chairs, and on the screen was an image of the book, The One Thing, which for those of you who aren’t familiar, it was written by Gary Keller, who’s the chairman of Keller Williams, largest real estate company in the world, franchise company, and his co-author Jay Papasan.

And so, Jay, the co-author walked out on stage and for the next hour, he blew my mind. I remember sitting in the back row thinking the entire time, how do I get a guy like Jay to be one of my five? What can I possibly say to him that would make him interest me? What can I give him that would make it worth his time? And when he finished speaking, he got a standing ovation. Yet when everybody sat, I was still standing. It was one of those moments where my mind was telling me to sit but my heart was telling me to go.

And before you know it, I am literally sprinting down the side of the ballroom, and I intercepted Jay. And that became a conversation. And what I did not realize was that at the time, The One Thing had already become one of the highest-rated business books of all time. And this presented a challenge because Gary Keller’s One Thing is being Chairman and CEO of Keller Williams. Jay’s One Thing is running education for KW and writing books with KW. The challenge was they were missing somebody who’s one thing was The One Thing. And that became my opportunity.

Giuseppe: That’s a great story. And I can relate with not being fulfilled in a position, kind of going back to the beginning of your story. I think a lot of people can relate. Just making a lot of money just not happy, not fulfilled. It’s just, it’s a drag. It’s a drag getting up every day and not excited and it’s a bad place to be. So definitely, there’s a lot more to it than just money, right? I mean, there’s just, it’s, life is just way too short. You know, there are a lot, while we’re on that topic, you know, being fulfilled it just, you know, what are some pieces of advice?

You’ve been there. I’ve been there. You know, the pieces of advice that you would give to the person that is kind of stuck. You know, either they have been looking into making that transition, that job, and they’re looking to own a business and or, you know, maybe the choice wasn’t theirs. They’ve been furloughed. Maybe they lost their job. And they thought about entrepreneurship. The pain’s there but maybe the pain wasn’t strong enough to take the first steps. What advice would you give to someone in that situation?

Find Your ONE Thing

Geoff: Oh, gosh, there’s so much. The first thing goes back to what I’ll refer to as reflection. And we see this with people who want to start living The One Thing. They think The One Thing is about having the answer. What is my one thing? I need to know what my one thing is. I need to be doing my one thing. It’s actually more of a question. It’s about being the type of person who can ask yourself really big questions like What is my purpose?

What Is the career that I want to have that would leave me on my deathbed going, Oh, that was extraordinary? And recognizing that when you ask big questions like that, very quickly, you’re going to hit a wall that I label I don’t know. Ordinary people stop when they hit the wall of I don’t know, and they go and they check their email. But the people who are truly in search of extraordinary, they’ll search for answers.

And for those of you that are in transition, if you’re trying to figure out what that next step is for you, I would ask you, if we followed you around with a camera and documented your every move, how much time would we see you investing in asking yourself big questions and searching for the answers so you get clarity. I think the first step is you’ve actually got to start asking yourself the questions. What is the career I want to have? What is my purpose? Why am I here? And giving yourself the space to genuinely brainstorm on the ideas and think it through because that will give you more direction than you can possibly imagine.

Giuseppe: That’s some really good advice. And I think that’s the issue, right? People just don’t know where to start. what questions to ask. I think they just get overwhelmed to the point where, okay, I’ll deal with it next week. I’ll think about it. So it’s critical to give someone a starting point just to have them think about it. They don’t maybe need the answer right away, but something they can start with. Maybe it’s just one question. It’s one starting point.

Geoff: Well, let’s go one step further, Giuseppe. We’re talking about rewriting decades of habits. Ever since we were kids in school, we were programmed to have the answer, not to search for it. And here we are trying to live a life by design versus a life by default and we wonder why we don’t have the answers. It’s because we never developed the mental muscle of asking the question and searching for it.

Giuseppe: Right. I definitely agree with that. Switching gears a little bit, you know, working with business owners of all different sizes. What do you teach business owners? So they come to you, so the other part of the audience, they’ve made the transition. So they own the franchise or the non-franchise and they’re looking for the next thing. You know, what can you help, and I guess who can you help as far as the size of the company as far as business owners?

Geoff: Sure. Well, The One Thing was actually written to the individual. It was written to the person in the cubicles. And it wasn’t just written to the professional side of them, it was written to the whole person because an extraordinary life is actually not about just a career. The career is to fund an extraordinary life.

And so while the book was written for really pretty much anyone, the people that we help are the people that are in search of more. It really comes down to your time. When you think about it, it’s our most valuable resource. The problem people have is they go through their days spending their time, not investing it. And here’s a perfect example of this. Giuseppe, think back to your banking days. What’s the, when you opened your computer, what was the first thing that you checked?

Giuseppe:It was email.

Geoff: Until you went to a

Giuseppe:Phone call.

Geoff: Or a meeting. You got out of the meeting, you have five minutes. So you check

Giuseppe: Email.

Geoff: And then somebody says, Hey, do you got a minute? And this literally repeats all day long. People react all day long. And then they look up at the end of the day and they genuinely wonder, did I get anything done? That’s reflective of people spending their time and especially people that are getting into the franchise business because oftentimes, you’re leading a voluntary army. And you’re trying to scale this thing and you’ve got your hands in so many different places. You wear so many different hats.

You’re trying to have this life where you have freedom and abundance and all these things, yet you feel shackled to the very business that you own. And what it really comes down to is we were spending our time and we’re not investing it. You invest your time when you are clear on your priorities, the things that matter most. Those 20% big rocks that deliver 80% of the results. You focus on those things and you say no to everything else until you earn the right to address them. That’s what we teach people how to do. We teach them how to better invest their time so they achieve extraordinary results.

Giuseppe: I like it. And I guess the question to that is, I started my entrepreneur journey about 15 years ago. And is it that business owners feel no other employee can do as good of a job? Or, you know, what, I guess what is the issue? Why are people insisting on the owners checking the email, taking the customer service calls? Is it a power thing? They like to be in control? What do you, you know, what are the trends? Like, why are business owners doing this? Because I hear this day in and day out.

Being an Owner vs Being an Operator

Geoff: Sure. I’ve heard Gary Keller talk about this with, in some of his masterminds, which KW is a franchise company. So he has masterminds with the top agents in the world. And I’ve heard him on so many occasions saying one of your biggest challenges is that what made you a great entrepreneur is that you saw all the things that needed to get done and you were resourceful enough to get them done just well enough that the business started to grow.

The mistake that people make is they trick themselves into thinking that they’re actually good at it. And most often their seating in spite of themselves, not because of themselves. The opportunity is to recognize that if you truly want to be an owner, there’s a difference between an owner and an operator.

And most business quoted business owners, they might have equity but they’re operators. They’re not acting like owners. They’re not acting like CEOs. They’re not acting like chairmen or chairwomen of the board. And it’s a journey of moving from I do it, where when I do it, I have a job to we do it, I bring on a team and now I’m doing it with them and I’m overseeing it. But understand that when we do it together, I still have a job. The question is, how do we move from I do it to we do it to they do it? Because the moment you move from we to they, you cross this imaginary line called freedom.

And the moment you can move from they do it to them feeling like it’s theirs, now you go into territory where you’re actually building an empire. And that’s what Gary has absolutely done is he has an amazing ability to attract world-class talent into his world and give them opportunities where they genuinely feel like it’s theirs and they build something that is so big, they can have everything they could possibly ever want out of life while being inside his world.

Giuseppe: I like that. That makes complete sense. Changing topics a little bit. Right before the call, we were just talking about, you know, different areas and we were just talking about some similarities in our businesses. And the idea of making big decisions, you know, some big decisions are investing in buying a home with your partner. And investing or starting a business. But I, from my experience in 15 years in franchising notice that in many cases, I don’t have the partner or spouse on the line.

I have one member and they’re basically saying, Yeah, they’re, you know, they’re on board with it. They’re okay with it until you get them on you find the complete opposite. So talk a little bit about the importance of just, you know, it’s not a fun, it’s not keeping business and personal separate. You need to involve all parts of your family to make sure they’re on the same page. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Geoff: Sure. I think every business owner would agree that no one succeeds alone. If you’re a business owner, you know you do not succeed by doing it by yourself. You have to succeed through others. The challenge is we take, we understand that these are simple, timeless truths in business, yet we don’t apply them to our personal lives.

So many business owners say yes to building the business, and they don’t actually involve their significant other in the process. And let’s be clear, the personality profile of an entrepreneur, they’re a vision person, they’re big picture, they move fast, they are not detail-oriented, they have 1000 ideas a day, they constantly want to implement new things.

What you have to realize is if you’re that type of person, if you’re nodding your head and going, yep, you have to realize that your significant other likely is getting treated like a rag doll. Just constantly getting whipped around just trying to keep up with you. And we sometimes wonder why we’re so busy building this business and trying to make an impact and we’re doing it because we want to provide for our family.

So why the heck is my significant other not in my court? It’s because we never took them, involved them in the journey to begin with. And this is something my partner Jay for close to 15 years now, once a year he and his wife Wendy get out of their normal environment, they get a babysitter for the kids and they actually set their goals together. They do a couples goal-setting retreat, and it’s something they had done for over a decade before when we were building this business. We said, Wait a minute.

What would it look like if we took timeless business principles for setting goals, for casting a vision, for getting clarity on priorities, for making sure you could have a relationship with those goals? So you can have accountability to those goals? And what would it look like if we did it for couples? And it has become one of the best things that we do because the truth is, the moment you actually, you and your plus one are on the same page, it’s like you’re unstoppable. But people don’t even know what it’s like because they’ve never experienced it. They’ve normalized the disconnect.

Giuseppe: Yeah, you definitely took it to the next level. I talk about just business ownership. You are right. If your goals are not aligned with your partner, with your spouse, you’re going to have some issues down the road. Especially if your goals are kept to yourself. I talked to quite a few people, they say they have big goals every year, they jot down four or five, but it’s a secret. Well, you can’t keep that a secret from your partner or spouse.

Especially if they, if your goal is to travel a week a month and your partner’s job may not allow for it or whatever the case may be, yes, you’re gonna have you’re gonna be disappointed. It’s gonna just cause a, you know, a whole slew of issues. So yes, I think that is a good idea. Involve your partner, your spouse and goal setting, what business you want to be in because that business, there’s going to be spillover, right?

I mean, it’s going to be time where you may have to travel a little bit longer, put the extra hours in, your spouse has to be on board because if you have a family, it may be the spouse that’s picking up the additional hours and the drop-offs, the soccer and this and that. So it’s crucial. I mean, and if you’re in a business or not, if you just have, both have jobs, this is critical. So it applies to just about everyone. So great advice and hopefully we save marriages in the process by talking about this.

This is really good stuff. Talk us through so, you know, we talked about who you’re able to assist and serve, we talked about the book. So, you know, how does someone contact you? And, you know, the best way for someone to contact you and see if you can walk us through the process, if you want to use me as an example or whatever is easier, but what can someone expect, you know, when they contact you and want to come together and get your assistance?

Geoff: Well, it depends on what they need. First and foremost I would say if you haven’t read the book, The One Thing, get it on Amazon or go to our site, And that’s what the number one in the URL. The, then the number one The title of the book and the podcast are spelled out ONE but the URL has the number one instead.

And if you go on the training page, you’re gonna see, I mean, there’s so many ways that we support people from online training to in-person events like our couples goal-setting retreat. We’re doing it virtually this year for obvious reasons to corporate training and certification and coaching. So it really just depends on where people need the support, but I would say if there was one place you could go, go to and pick something that seems like it would be of interest to you.

Giuseppe: Great. And we’ll put all that into the show notes, all the URLs and all that information. Geoff, what’s, you know, a lot of stuff going on with the pandemic in the world. People are in limbo. Either they’ve lost their jobs, you know, looking for that, kind of that next career. You know, we talked about it, if you would give the person in career transition, but, you know, in your business since you assist all these people. What’s kind of exciting? What’s new, you know, that’s going on that you’d like to share with the audience?

Find the Gift in the Shift

Geoff: Yeah. The moment that COVID hit, I got a call from Jay. And he said a few things to me that are pretty seared into my mind and I’ll remember for the rest of my life. He said, first and foremost, your GPS, which is what we call our business plan. It’s a one-page business plan, super simple. He said, your GPS is dead. I’m divorcing you from all financial commitments you’ve made this year to the board.

The world has changed and it’s time for you to go figure out where the market is. And he literally said, this is from Gary, you know, recessions are just another word for exposure. They expose your thinking, they expose your priorities, they expose your values, your money, your relationships, everything gets exposed in a recession. And there’s actually a gift in every shift if you’re willing to look for it. So Jay was asking me, what is the gift in this for us? I was looking at the p&l and realizing Holy smokes 90% of our top line was at stake.

And the one thing I knew I could do, and this was directly from Gary, was start contacting your customers and build a protective moat around them. And I literally did what I call the Adele script. I started calling my our customers and saying, hello, how are you? And what was amazing was by having those conversations, in a matter of days, I figured out a completely new niche that we could serve. And our business has exploded as a result. We are on track to probably double what we did last year as a result of this.

So here’s the message for people. Whether you are a business owner or whether you’re in transition, there is a gift in the shift if you are willing to look for it. The thing that stops us from reinventing ourselves is an attachment to the way things used to be. What we mean by that is we all have a track record of what we used to do, how we used to operate. And there are still so many people that are desperately reaching back into the future and holding on to the way things used to be. When can it just get back to normal? When can my business just get back to the way it used to be? When can we get back to being in person?

Versus letting go of that and opening yourself to look forward and asking, what’s the business that would put us out of business? How do I build it first? Where’s the market going? What is the need that my customers or my ideal customer deeply have? And how might I be able to fill that need? You got to start asking the bigger questions, searching for the bigger answers and once you’ve got a sense of direction and clarity, you execute like your life depends on it because it does.

Giuseppe: And that’s a big deal. You can sit on your hands waiting for other people to do it, right? It’s the innovators, it’s the people that step in first. I cannot agree with you more. This is definitely the time, in many cases it’s forcing you, right? To make that shift and say okay, it’s not business as usual. Things will, you know, what is the, instead of saying when things will go back normal, ask what’s the new normal.

And I agree. I, you know, in franchising, we’ve kind of changed our approach. You talk to franchise companies and pivoted to virtual, to utilizing technology and how they go about doing business. Gyms are closed. So how do we, you know, people still have to work out, life goes on. So how do we help those people? How do we get workouts to people at homes and serve those people? So yes, it’s, you do have to be innovative. You can’t just sit on your hands and wait for others to do it and then just piggyback and copy them.

Geoff: And here’s the thing, you have to recognize where this advice is coming from. This is directly from Gary, which, you know, he started Keller Williams in 1983. Franchise company. Every single recession that he went into, he came out with more market share. Never once did it weaken the company, it helped the company explode. And this is the mindset, there is a gift in the shift. And the moment that you can make sure that you’ve stopped the bleeding and that you are in, that you can survive, you immediately need to double down on the things that you can do that will allow you to take exponential market share and start executing on those relentlessly.

Giuseppe: Great advice. And that’s, and we talk about not every franchise is built the same. So kind of like finding those particular companies that have that leadership because it doesn’t exist with every company, so awesome advice. I cannot agree more. And I hope everyone listens to this show twice because a lot of good words of wisdom. We will, you know, put the link up there on the site for both your, The One Thing Podcast, for the book. Anything else you’d like to share, Geoff, on today’s show or share with the audience?

Geoff: Here’s what I’d say, if you have a significant other, I would strongly suggest to you that if you and your plus one are not on the same page, this arguably may be your one thing. Getting on the same page with them, co-authoring a vision for the future and it’s not that your goals have to be the same or that you even agree. It’s about having an understanding of what’s important to the other person so that you can start supporting one another through the upcoming year. I would strongly encourage you to check out the retreat that we’re facilitating virtually this year, and the URL for that is

And for those of you, if you’re in the franchise space and you’re going alright, I know what it feels like to lead a voluntary army and I would love to have a way to bring more clarity and priority to the team, check out the training page. Check out the corporate training options that we do because we do it really really well anywhere from small companies of five people to the fortune 50. And it absolutely scales.

Giuseppe: Sounds great. We’ll add to the show notes. Geoff, it’s been a pleasure, Geoff from The One Thing. I had a great time, learned a lot and I look forward to hopefully another show. This has been great.

Geoff: I appreciate it. Giuseppe. Thank you.