Each of us has a purpose, a reason for the decisions we make and the actions that we take, and sometimes it only lives within us, unacknowledged, unidentified. Yet, other times, our purpose is a force to be reconned with, and it drives us to set goals and to accomplish them, and it helps us build our own path, it enables us to recognize our success and to celebrate it.

Being successful down the road means identifying your purpose and your values now. In Get A Leg Up, Manny Padro shares how he’s achieved a life of happiness and fulfillment by learning to recognize his purpose and value system through behavior modification. Let’s jump in to this conversation with Manny Padro.

Welcome to The Author Hour Podcast, I’m your host Benji Block and today, I’m excited to be sitting down with Manny Padro, who has just authored a new book titled, Get A Leg Up: The Learn, Earn, Give Toolset for Teenage Purpose and Optimism. Manny, so glad to get to talk to you today.

Manny Padro: Well, thanks, Benji.

Benji Block: It’s going to be fun. I want to — maybe before we go into your backstory, allow listeners into just what your life looks like these days and what prompted you to write a book, because that’s a big undertaking. So tell me a little bit about what life looks like now and what prompted this?

Manny Padro: Our family is in mostly in Salt Lake City, Utah. That’s where Laura and I raised our children, and I’m originally from the Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania, came out here right after college and just started to love where we lived, and so we decided to raise our family here. One night, I was laying in bed, and I was thinking about all the things that I’ve learned after college and the difference that it’s made in my life.

I asked myself, “What would it be like if I were to learn these principles and these concepts when I was in college or even in high school?” and my trajectory would be much more, I think, higher, and my ability to achieve would have been sooner, and I’m talking about the success levels that I had plans for. And so, that really made me think about where I came from because I lived in North Philadelphia for many years and the mindset that I had — and I was raised in is different than the mindset that I have now, and it’s really based around three principles of learning, earning and giving, and that’s why I decided to go ahead and write the book.

Benji Block: I love those three principles, and I always admire when an author is basically going, “Man, if I could go back, I wish I would have had this resource, so I’ll just create it.” In fact, you put it that way, I’ll just quote you here. You say, “I’m writing this book to share what I have learned over my lifetime that has helped me be a successful in my business life and personal life, and this knowledge from 30 years of actively learning is something I wish I would have had in my youth.”

So that’s inspirational, and this is a work of love. So I really appreciate that. In your words, I want to talk about your childhood here because that does very much inform this book. In your words and from what you remember, take me back to your time in Puerto Rico and then North Philadelphia and what your upbringing was like, that really then starts driving you to write this?

Manny Padro: Sure. We lived in Puerto Rico for about four or five years, and it was really interesting because I still have great memories of living there. My grandfather had a farm, he raised coffee, and we would spend a lot of time on that farm, it’s a small town near Utuado in Puerto Rico.

My parents decided to move to Philadelphia, my dad had some family there, and we started pretty—I mean, it was pretty humble beginnings. My dad, we were living in my aunt’s home until my dad was able to seek employment, and then we started to move into our own home, where we went to elementary school and that was in North Philadelphia and, you know, it was during 1960. 

Well, it’s probably around ‘65 through ‘69 that I lived there. So 1968-1969 were pretty tough times for a lot of the people in the country and in Philadelphia. So then from there, we moved out to Bucks County. After graduating from high school, I attended Penn State University, where I got my bachelor’s degree, and then after graduation, moved out west and fell in love with Utah, and this is where I’m at. I love to ski, I love to ride our horses and spend time outdoors and this is a good place to do it, so it’s been a good fit. 

The Importance of Education

Benji Block: I wonder when you’re looking back at your youth, and you think of even like, traditional schooling, there’s obviously a difference between being educated and learning, right? There’s a difference between formal education, desks and rows, we’re looking at a teacher, versus a love for learning and continuing personal development. How did you discover that? How did you uncover that, and what’s that journey been like for you, Manny?

Manny Padro: Well, and it’s interesting because I still think that traditional education is fantastic because it builds the foundation, and that foundation is important for us all to have. What I’ve learned was that education is a lifelong process. It doesn’t stop, and learning doesn’t stop. 

A friend of mine told me that his dad told him once that the enemy of learning is knowing, and when someone thinks that they know it all and they’ve arrived, that becomes a real dangerous point where they stop learning and so the learning piece is obviously incredible, and it’s a driving force.

If you’re hungry to learn new ideas, different things, different people’s perspectives, it really can evolve, change and evolve your personal growth in many ways and so it’s not just the traditional, which I love, but it also a means to go beyond that and think outside of that box.

Benji Block: I always had trouble with the maybe some more formal forms of education just simply because of a rebellious streak in me, Manny, where I was like, “Man, I just don’t like being told what to read or told what to learn,” and after I got out of school, I realized how much I like to learn on my own actually, pick up books, actually develop myself. What were you like as a student? 

Manny Padro: That’s a great question. I was a C-average student. In high school, I had really good-great grades but when I went to college, I found out that I had to take remedial classes because I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was, and I wrote in the book about President Bush’s statement, congratulating students when he was speaking at a college in university that you know he said, “For those of you who got As and Bs, congratulations, you worked very hard, and I look forward to you progressing in life, and for those of you that are C students, just remember that someday, you too can be president of the United States.”

And to me, it really sets the tone that grades are important but your thirst and hunger and appetite for learning is critical, and if you develop that, it could really escalate your ability to go to places and do things you want to do.

Benji Block: Yeah, I wonder, how do you speak to somebody and, obviously, if you’re listening to this podcast, there’s some element to you where you want to self-develop, but when you think of those that maybe they get passed formal education, formal school and it’s just like, they don’t have that drive to continue to learn.

Is there anything that you feel like you could say to motivate or do you just lead by example and you continue to develop yourself and maybe by osmosis, others learn? What do you think you would say to those that are in that space or maybe they don’t have that same fire to continue to learn?

Manny Padro: Motivation is a really interesting topic in itself. It’s a challenging area to try and get someone motivated and something that they don’t want to do. So I think that I’m speaking to mostly the people that want to learn but don’t know how to make those changes, and it’s about changing the mindset. Like I mentioned a few minutes ago, it’s real important where we’re raised and how we’re raised, helps us to develop mindsets.

And sometimes, those mindsets and paradigms are not what—for example, when I was growing up, what I thought was the norm was around certain mindsets, when I moved out on my own, I discovered that that’s not the mindset for success, that I needed to change and align my behavior with something that was important to me. 

Just imagine waking up in the morning every day and knowing what your purpose in life is going to be, and what are your values, and what are you planning on doing today to support those values? If you have that kind of mindset, you’re going to be a different person than the person who just gets up and reacts to the alarm clock, and is just reacting to the day and not really being proactive, and so motivation is difficult. 

I’m not an expert in that area, I know I’m self-motivated. From my perspective, it’s all been about who are the young people who want to learn, who want to have options and in addition to what they learn in traditional schools, go to the next level, and that’s where my target is, to approach that audience.

Learn, Earn, Give

Benji Block: Yeah, I love that. Let’s go to 2007, you were led to this process that helped you develop what you were just talking about, your purpose statement. In that process, you could say that maybe you had some like, epiphany type moments. Tell me a bit more of what those realizations were that you had because of the process you were walked through?

Manny Padro: Sure, there’s a real close friend of mine by the name of Chuck Wachendorfer, and he is one of the key leaders at a company called Think2Perform, and I started working with him around 2007 and he and I, we just had conversations where we were getting to know each other, and he was getting to know me and after several conversations, he said, “You know, it sounds to me like your purpose in life is pretty simple,” and I was like, “Really, what do you mean by that?”

He said, “I think that you enjoy learning, you enjoy earning, and you enjoy giving,” and so from that point, I decided that I needed to align my behavior and make sure that I held myself accountable to those three principles. Since then, once a year in November, I go back and revisit not only my purpose in life but also my value system and determine where am I going to put my energy in the upcoming year.

And then I actually measure that on a weekly basis by looking back and journaling and saying, “These are the things that I have done to help me to be in alignment to the things that are most important.” At first, you kind of struggle through it because it’s not something that people normally do. You normally don’t wakeup and think, “You know, I’m going to make sure that I accomplish something that’s important to me based on my value system.”

Most people, as we know, like I said, just all hit the alarm clock sometimes and just go through the day. But it’s important to set that tone, and once you set that tone, you align your behaviors with that thinking, and then it starts to evolve and it starts to change your life. Some people may learn it quickly, others, it may take time. It took me a lot of years until I felt like I was really in rhythm behind those principles but, someone might only take a few weeks.

So it’s really an area for a debate in terms of how long does it take before everything gets into alignment.

Benji Block: Yeah, I want to talk through a couple of different timelines here and so let’s say before 2007, learning’s already something that really matters to you, right, Manny? This is something like, your self-development is something that’s already been happening, but then this is a different type of fuel. It puts you on to some new methodologies. There was clearly some goal setting, there was some way of thinking about the world, but you didn’t have the purpose statement. Like, how would you describe yourself, let’s say, 2006, before the purpose statement and all that?

Manny Padro: That’s a good question because I think I was more in a reactionary mode of life, and that was a key moment to start changing because I think it became conscious. Having the conversation with someone who is a coach or a mentor, and it could be a dear friend that helps you to determine what your purpose in life is, is pretty critical.

To do it on your own, you could do it on your own, but it’s especially when you’re young, it’s more challenging, but once you find that, that’s the groundwork for it. I’ve said in the book that you know, it’s like building a foundation. When you look at the hurricanes that go through in the southeastern part of the country after a hurricane, the only thing that’s really standing is the foundation. Everything else has been toppled over, and so it’s important to have that foundation. 

Now, you can always change direction, and you can decide what maybe my purpose statement needs to change and evolve. I think that’s part of the process but then, having the values in alignment with that purpose statement is really important. So prior to 2007, I think I was like, everyone else and well, mostly everyone else, which is just getting up, hitting the alarm clock and thinking about, what did I have to get done that day and not sitting there, thinking, “What do I want to get done that day and how am I going to impact the things that are most important to me?”

Benji Block: So when he says, learn, earn, give, did those things immediately resonate with you? 

Manny Padro: They did, and because it was simple. You know, it was a simple concept. It took all my thinking and all my energy and focused it, and so that you still find yourself in moments, and during the day, where you have to do certain things that may not be in alignment with those principles or values, but I think it’s important for us to step back and look at the end of the day or the end of the week and say, “What did I do in those areas?” and if the answer is nothing, then obviously, it’s on you, and you need to be the person who recognizes that and changes.

That you can actually change that behavior in line of thinking and, you know, one of my goals in life is to help move the poverty line by 1% in the United States, and I think education is really important and changing mindsets is also very important. That’s how you move poverty, and I was talking to my son in law, he has a PHD and he is a professor at Oklahoma State University. He found out that a two-parent family and three children in the United States, their income in the poverty line was around 32,338. 

So imagine trying to support a family when your household income is $32,000 a year, and a lot of those people feel trapped because I know we were like that when I was growing up, and I had a real dear friend of mine one day say, you know, he said, “Have you ever opened your refrigerator when you were growing up and not have any food in it?” and I said, “No” and he said, “Well, I did.” 

That was a profound wake up moment in my life where I decided that I really want to try and go back and try and give some tools to some people, and it doesn’t have to be someone who is in poverty. It could be any of us because I learned it while I was doing well financially, but I just didn’t get that concept of identifying what’s really important to me in life and going after it. 

Benji Block: Yeah, there is so many shifts, right? Now, I am glad that you are speaking to this. 

Manny Padro: Well, and distractions. There is a lot of distractions in this world, and I think that we can all easily be distracted from what we want to do, and then find ourselves at a place of unhappiness because we really didn’t do what we wanted to do, and you don’t have to be all guns and fire and just completely change overnight. It is a process where things change, evolve, but your commitment to that process is what makes a big difference. 

Aligning Your Purpose and Values

Benji Block: So when we start talking about purpose and values, in your case, the purpose statement was something that you were then working on, these three words bubble to the surface because of the conversation. So you had the purpose statement first and then the values. Is that the typical order? Does it matter? How do you begin identifying your core values? 

Manny Padro: It’s my order. It doesn’t—there is no real science behind it that I know of. I think that it works for me, and it made a huge difference for me in terms of success, and one of the things that I have learned is that success is defined differently by different people. It is not just about money. People, when we think about success, someone thinks, “Well, how much are you going to make?” Well, that’s part of the equation, but it’s not the ultimate picture.  

I have five values that are really important to me: spirituality, family, achievement, autonomy, and solitude. So, like I mentioned to you before, as a matter of fact, there is a card game that’s produced by this company Think2Perform, and you get a deck of cards and that is in the book that I wrote about, and it has all the different values and some blank cards where you can write down a value that they may have missed, but it is like a deck of cards. 

Through that process, I was able to figure out what my top 20 to 25 were, and then cut it down to 10, and then cut it down to five, and then I said to myself, “I need to write down my purpose and my values and make sure that I align my behaviors behind them,” because I think that’s where people, we all tend to drop the ball. We allow distractions to get in the way and not go back and hold ourselves accountable because it does make a big difference. 

If I would have been doing this when I was in college, it would have made a big difference. It could be any age, and it doesn’t mean you can’t do it now at any age.

Benji Block: Right, there is something about that clarity behind your values and revisiting, I think that’s the part that I wanted to go a little deeper with you on because it is one thing, let’s say someone takes you through your core values exercise or you define some words that really matter to you, then those words get lost, and I am guilty of this. Like I have these words, they matter to me. 

I want to live them out, I want to live to this principles, these virtues, but then life gets busy and I don’t revisit it and I don’t – you know, so what are the patterns that you’ve developed Manny, over time, that have been most useful to you to revisit those values and make sure that you are living from them? 

Manny Padro: I think the first thing is Napoleonic principle, and I think that principle is really key to this, which is commit yourself first and then see what happens. That principle is really, really important, and the word commitment is defined differently by different folks, but the way I look at it is you have to be able to reflect on what you accomplished in a period of time, whether that period of time is a day, a week, a month, a year, and look back on what was important to me and what did I do to support that. 

If you don’t have accountability to yourself, you’re not going to have accountability to anybody else, and then when you get older in life, you look back and you say, “Well, I sure missed some opportunities that I could have taken advantage of if I’d committed myself to them” and so to me, it is about commitment because we take it for granted. It is easy to sit there and say, “Well, I live a value-based lifestyle.” Well, you know, congratulations. 

So tell me more, what does that mean? Give me some key values, some words that you anchor yourself around, and no matter what happens, you’re going to have days where you’re distracted. You’re going to have days where you may not be in alignment, and then all you do is start over again and keep moving, and then the other piece I think is important is I really like around October-November of every year, I really like going back looking at the values cards, seeing if there is a value that I’ve changed. 

My daughter, Bobbie Sue, used to have as my fifth value the word privacy because I thought that privacy was very important to me and my daughter, Bobby Sue, challenged me, and she said, “Dad, you know I am not sure if privacy really is what you’re looking for. Based on how you behave, I would say you enjoy solitude more than you do privacy” and that set me on a pattern and a course in itself because I went back to revisit and look at the word solitude and the definition of solitude and I thought she’s right. 

That better fits me, so she was making an observation, and she has a master’s in psychology. She made an observation of my behavior and helped me to recognize that there was another value that was more important than the value that I thought was important, and that’s where having a coach or having a mentor, someone that is – it could be a relative, it could be a friend, help you to also be accountable to what it is you want, and then you help them to be accountable for what they want and that creates energy and synergy. 

That’s what I think will help for you or anyone else to stay consistent and then looking back at life, you know, when you’re older, you’ll sit there and say, “I’m excited because I’ve lived the way I want to live. I live the things that are important to me, and I just didn’t live a life of reaction.” 

Benji Block: Yeah, I wanted to spend time on learning in values and purpose intentionally here because that’s where the book starts, but I also think it’s just if that is the foundation, then when we get to things like goal setting, it’s like now it’s the appropriate time to set some goals once you’ve really established your values and purpose. There is so much content around goal setting than smart goals and ways to think about it and how often should I be setting new ones. 

We can easily go into goal setting, check something off a list mode without knowing the why or the foundation that sits underneath, and so I appreciate the order of this work. I want to know, how do your values inform your goals Manny and what does that look like, the rhythms of setting goals once you had your values and purpose established? 

Manny Padro: Well, then I – that’s a great question because then what I do is I look at for example, learn, earn and give and for me, giving for the year 2022 was finishing this book. We started it in probably November – no, December of 2020, then it took us about 18 months. So I’m sorry, I said 2022, I should say 2021 and 2022, and it took me about 18 months to get this put together in a way that I felt comfortable with, but to me, that whole process was under the goal of giving. 

I sat there and I thought, “You know, if can help one person in this planet to understand these concepts and change their life, and if they came back to me and said, ‘Because of what you taught me, I feel like I’m a happier person,’ then I hit a grand slam,” and to me, that’s really what drove me to want to write the book. The other thing that I do is I really look at those values, and I put down what it is that I want to do and accomplish over the next 12 months for each value. 

Benji Block: Yeah, I like that.

Manny Padro: Yeah, exactly, and so, for example, with achievement, my business goals are very important to me because they allow me to do and live the lifestyle that I want, and so what I do is make sure that I put together my business plan and know what my key objectives are for that year and so an achievement is also something that I align with reading. I love to read. I wasn’t always that way, but I’ve learned to develop an appetite for reading because there is so much great information out there. 

So when I complete a book, that’s in a sense of achievement, and I look at achievement in different levels. There is many things that you achieve in a day, there is maybe something that’s going to be more intermediate that you achieve in a day, and then there’s going to be those days where you’re like, “Wow, that was a big accomplishment. That was a big piece of achievement,” and you have to recognize that and pat yourself on the back because that’s what I think keeps feeding this process and keeps you motivated in this process to accomplish what you want. 

You know, when Bobbie Sue and I talk about solitude, one of my favorite things to do in the winter time, we have a place in Wayne County, Utah that we go to, and I love sitting by the wood burning stove that has a glass front to it and just reading a book in my rocking chair, and it’s just me, and no one disturbs me. If my family is there and they know that I’m there, they know that I’m there for solitude, and they respect that. 

So you know, it’s important to again, put your energy behind these concepts and at first, it is going to be a little awkward, and at first, you may not have as many victories, but you got to keep swinging the bat. You got to keep going after it. 

Teaching Values to Future Generations

Benji Block: Love it. Well, as we start to wrap up, I wanted to ask for the parents listening that have kids in their home and they’re thinking through values and virtues, clearly, we’re talking. You could set these personally, but how do you instill these in your kids intentionally and how you like pour into youth? 

Manny Padro: I think that a good starting point is to order a deck of cards from think2perform. So it’s all small caps, think and then the number two and then perform, and play a game with them. You could play games, you could start out as a parent yourself doing the game where you start out and you identify what are my top 20 or 25 because it is easier to identify those and then trim it down until you get to about five. 

Once you make that as a game and you’re playing with one of your children, you may ask them and say, “Let’s try it with you,” and see what resonates to them and watch their behavior when you’re working with them in place. It is like playing a game of cards, only you are just focusing on different values. Once you find that out, it’s a starting point, and it is important that you write it down, and then you help them stay in alignment and help them recognize the victories when they’re living a value. 

I was just having a phone call with a marketing company, and I mentioned that one of their values is diversity as a company, and I said to them, “Well, my daughter Bobbie Sue, one of her top five values is diversity,” and so right there, it helped me to understand that that’s a company that I probably want to work with because of the fact that our values are in alignment. For parents, I think it’s about making it a game. 

I think it’s about writing it down. I think it’s about recognizing and helping them understand when they’re achieving things, and then that starts to modify the behavior. It is not something that you’re going to do in 15 minutes, it’s something that you have to resonate with and you have to stay consistent. If you stay consistent as a parent with your values system and share that with your children, I believe that they will identify the importance of that and then follow suit. 

Benji Block: Yeah, it’s the long game and leading by example, but you got to define it for yourself before – it’s maybe a little scary because you know kids pick up on everything. So they’ll see you when you don’t follow through on your values, but again, it’s better to have the conversation than to leave it in the dark. I love this Manny, I could talk to you about values, virtues. 

I talked to you about goal setting for a long time, but we are coming to the end here and obviously, we want to also tell people, “Hey, go pick up the book,” actually read the entire thing. The title is, Get A Leg Up: The Learn, Earn, Give Toolset for Teenage Purpose and Optimism. When someone is done with this book, what do you hope is the main takeaway Manny? What do you hope the main feeling is as someone leaves reading this? 

Manny Padro: I think enthusiasm. If I would to bring it to one word is enthusiasm and recognition that you are going to change who you are and that you are going to be happier with who you are. You know, I get to the point when I’m living my values and my purpose that if there is anything outside of that, it is very difficult for me to pay attention to it, but that took years of development and sometimes, I come across like I may not be flexible. 

Well, it’s because I want my energy and my thinking to go into what’s important to me and not what’s important to somebody else, but I think that those two words would be the words that I would say you would sense after you started to do these exercises and again, you’re not going to master them. I haven’t mastered it, and it’s just an ebb and flow process. 

Benji Block: Well, fascinating conversation. Congratulations on the book. For people that want to stay connected to more of your work, is there any other ways that they can do that online or website for the book or? 

Manny Padro: Yes, we do have a website, learnearngive.com, so it’s all one word, learnearngive.com and if someone is listening to this and you want to send me an email, just so that I can kind of get feedback and thinking of how other people are digesting this material and working with it, you can send an email to [email protected] and that will help us to kind of get some feedback and understand how it’s impacting other people’s lives. 

Benji Block: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for taking time and creating this resource and then being here on Author Hour with us. It was a pleasure to get to chat with you today. 

Manny Padro: Thanks a million, Benji.