This conversation started on June 12th, buckle up.
Steve, how young are you?
59 years young.
Where do you live? and why?
I live in Northbrook Il. a suburb of Chicago.
Why? This is where I have found the best opportunity for both business and raising my family.
If you would, please share anything you would like about your family.
My wife and children are my world. Married 29 years. 3 Children. Daughter 27. Sons 25 and 22. They are all independent and love each other unconditionally. They all come home on Sunday’s.
What does that Sunday look like at the Werner abode when the kids visit?
Kids show up with their significant others, dogs, friends and laundry for sure. My wife cooks a big meal and the kids hang out all afternoon. Usually no agenda. Right now, wedding planning for our older son. Long walks in the neighborhood where we raised our family. Frequent visits to a little restaurant in town where our boys worked as teens, lots of love.
What is your answer when someone asks you what do you do?
I work with people.
When the question is “what do you do for a living, I answer different”.
What do you do for a living?
Touche’. I am a serial entrepreneur. Partner in a niche security business and also a Success Coach.
What niche do you secure?
We have developed a product used to board up vacant and abandoned buildings. We board up properties with steel as opposed to plywood. We are a full service rental company started in Chicago in 2009 and now operate in 14 cities. Hoping to exit in next 12 months to pursue my purpose full-time.
What is your purpose?
My purpose is to help people change their lives by discovering inner strength.
Interesting yin and yang. You are boarding up old buildings and keeping people out and on the other hand helping people and opening new doors for them.
Any thoughts about that?
Never thought of it like that but I love it. Brilliant.
Which is more rewarding?
Serving people through coaching.
Why do you like working with people?
I genuinely love watching people succeed. I love helping people go Beyond Success and reaching heights they never thought were possible.
How do you do that? Help people reach heights they never thought possible?
I am a living example. I have created a set of principles that I live by which are highlighted in my book The Titan. I believe when people become keenly aware of their own story and use it as a navigational system for life in conjunction with the other principles the sky is the limit.
Know your story.
Never be satisfied.
Draw the line.
Surround yourself with successful people.
Give the gift.
Can you elaborate on those 5 principles? What do they mean?
I spent 19 years as an independent commodity trader at the Chicago Board of Trade. After that I was thrown into a very unenviable spot of reinventing myself in a family business that was $5 million in the red. I was a major investor and my life savings were at risk. It took 3 years to turn the business around and make the money back. I built an amazing business going forward that was being looked at for acquisition in 2007. 9 months later it was destroyed by the financial crisis. Almost cost me my life. Did a lot of soul-searching and wrote The Titan in 2012. I have always been very introspective and curious as to what makes me tick. Who influenced my life etc. The principles were answers to my own questions. Give the gift was taught to me by a catholic priest who I became friends with during the turmoil. He helped save my life in 2009. He taught me when people cause you stress you need to gift wrap the stress and hand it right back to them.
He died in 2011. I took care of him until his death.
What makes you tick?
I hate to lose. I need to battle to overcome my fears.
What do you fear?
Failure for sure, especially in business.
How did the priest help save your life?
I met with him every Tuesday for 18 months. He taught me about loving myself. A concept foreign to me. He was there during a very, very dark time.
That was very kind of you to care for him. What did caring for him as he exited this world teach you?
That God put him into my life just when I needed him. Then he took him away to see what I was made of.
What was turning 50 like for you?
Did not have much chance to reflect on my 50th. At the time I was painfully unwinding a masterpiece of a business that fell prey to the financial crisis. Always thought of myself as 10 years younger than I am both physically and mentally. Only a number for me.
Only a number. What has helped you create that philosophy in a society obsessed with age, especially youth?
I love doing what others won’t, especially in terms of challenges as it relates to age. I eat a super clean diet and workout 6 days a week religiously at 5 a.m. in the morning. I refer to it as the #hourofchampions. When others call me and my wife lucky to be in great shape it really just charges me up even more to be the best I can be.
How is being in your 50’s different from how you viewed it prior to living it?
Other than being closer to 70 than 30. Now 80-40. It’s been much easier than I suspected. Being in top physical and mental condition has made that possible.
How do you keep yourself in top physical and mental condition?
Again, NON Negotiable workouts for both mental and physical edge. High intensity. Example; this morning 1 push-up, 1 pull-up X 100. I believe you need to exercise your brain, body and soul daily. I listen to spirituality during my workouts.
When you say you listen to spirituality during your workouts can you be more specific? What are you listening too?
Sure, in 2015 I went to battle with an addiction to antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. It took me 10 months of a vicious battle to overcome. During that period I was put on a protocol of mind, body, spirit work by a long time friends son (who is a Dr. ) who was by my side 24/7 via text. He challenged me to find different sources of spirituality to incorporate into my daily routine. On YouTube I was able to find Maruanne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, Gabby Bernstein. I would load 30 minute videos on my phone and listen while I worked out. Mindfulness, resentments, fear, forgiveness etc. I try to enlighten myself daily. Most recent I was introduced to a Facebook group called Peaceful Jewish Warriors. Great videos on life daily.
If you are willing to talk about 2015, can you tell us about that battle?
After losing my business and dealing with 100 investors and an adversarial Wall Street Bank I became deeply depressed and battled insomnia. I was put on 4 different prescribed drugs in 2009.
Fast forward to 2015, I was having breakfast with a friend’s son (who is a Dr.). It was 6 a.m. and we were chatting when he stopped and asked “What are you on?” I mentioned the depression and insomnia. I told him that I was taking Ambien, Klonipin, Doexipin, and Lexapro. He looked at me and told me I was going to die. He said “I know you don’t want to spend the rest of your life-like this. He said he was going to get me off everything and that I was addicted. I was in shock. He looked at me square in the eyes and asked “are you in or are you out”? I told him I was in. He said buckle up, it’s going to be the worst year of your life. The next 10 months was insanity. On night two I began experiencing withdrawals from Klonipin which is harder to come off than heroin. I texted Ari at 2 am and told him I wasn’t going to make it. I was shaking and crying and in a dark spot. He told me to get on a sweatshirt and gym shoes and go into the street and run 20 wind sprints. I responded “it’s 2 a.m. and 4 degrees outside. His response was “I don’t give a shit, you committed, now do it!” I did. It was the first of many nights of sprints, push-ups, burpees until I puked, squats, pull-ups until my arms fell off.
10 months of hell. Then one day I woke up and it was over.
What was it like to hear that you were an addict?
Initially it rattled me really bad. Because the term addict was used for people who take/abuse drugs like heroin or crack cocaine. I was embarrassed for a brief period of time until I realized that if this could happen to me, it was happening to millions of unassuming people.
What did you learn about yourself during those 10 months of hell?
I always thought I was kind of tough in my own way. But through this I learned I had a lot more in terms of spirit and grit that was below the surface. I learned I had a relationship with a “higher power” that was virtually untapped that was there for me all along.
Do you still experience depression? If you do how do you deal with it today?
I do. I try to start by asking myself one quick question. That is’ What is reality?”. Am I hoping for a better past? Or tying a fear into something that has not happened yet? And then I do what Ari suggested I do 100 times over the ten months. PRAY.
Who was the first person you told you were an addict and why?
My wife. I knew there was going to be a very painful road to recovery ahead and I wanted to prepare her.
How did she respond to this news?
She was very supportive. Her attitude was “you can get thru anything”.
What did your initial embarrassment transform into?
A calling. After about 3 months of my battle people with similar issues began popping up in my life. I wanted to help.
What is reality to you Steve?
Great question. It is the opener I use for coaching. I’m going to answer the question the way it was asked vs “what is my reality”.
Reality is – Things are what they are. The past is gone, the future is not here now so what you face in the present is reality.
What is your higher power?
My higher power is my connection to The Universe and that I am a passenger along the way.
What is your favorite sound?
Wind. I like the sound of wind.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
Peace among mankind.
The universe has allowed 59-year-old Steve to sit down and talk with 27-year-old Steve. What would you say to yourself?
Live for today, not for when you are 65. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
I’m going to throw some words at you, can you tell me what they mean to you and your life.
Means not living in the past or the future. In my life it means slowing down.
Poison. My greatest personal defect.
Letting go. Which is very hard for me.
If you could meet one person in the history of this planet and ask that person a question who would it be? What would you ask?
You are told you have exactly 24 hours left in this world. What would you do with those 24 hours?
Sit on my living room floor with my wife and kids and talk about my life.
If you could write the three opening sentences to your eulogy what would it say?
Steve Werner’s life was his wife and children.
Despite Steve’s internal struggles he never gave up.
Steve was a great husband, father, son and friend.
Contact him at https://hourofchampions.com