Episode 89: Loving What You Do, With Brett Gilliland


What You Will Learn:

  • Why many business owners feel like they’re stuck in a J-O-B and aren’t finding J-O-Y in owning a business
  • Brett shares powerful quotes from historical figures, authors, celebrities, and business luminaries about loving what you do and drawing satisfaction from your work
  • Why you should first ask yourself how you got to this place in which you no longer enjoy your work, and why the health of your business is reflected in your mindset
  • Brett shares the experiences of Bill Harney, CEO of Keeping Current Matters, about what his life and business were like prior to working with Elite
  • How to bring the J-O-Y back to your role as leader of your business by reigniting your Purpose and setting your Vision, clarifying your Values, and growing your leadership
  • Why hiring, leading, and firing to your Values will make your team more productive, effective, and collaborative, and why the wrong people will drag your whole team down
  • Why growing yourself as a leader can free you to work ON your business rather than grinding IN your business and burning yourself out
  • Which three key ingredients people need to be happy in their work as proven by scientific research into happiness
  • How Bill Harney transformed his business through working with Elite, and what has changed for Bill and his company since
  • Why putting in the effort and making the right changes will help you find your way back to loving what you do, and how Elite can help you get there


About Brett Gilliland:

Brett Gilliland is the Founder and CEO of Elite Entrepreneurs, a company specializing in giving $1M+ business owners the knowledge, processes, and tools to grow to $ 10M and beyond. Brett, an expert in organization development, leadership, and strategy, spent ten years helping Infusionsoft grow from $7M in revenue to over $100M. Brett was involved in the foundational work of Purpose, Values, and Mission at Infusionsoft and facilitated the strategic planning process for many years.


One of Brett’s favorite professional accomplishments is co-creating Infusionsoft’s Elite Forum along with Clate Mask and building the Elite business inside Infusionsoft. As the leader of the Elite business, Brett has helped hundreds of struggling seven-figure business owners overcome their biggest challenges and achieve new levels of success. He also played a central role in developing Infusionsoft’s Leadership Model and serving as the VP of Leadership Development when deciding to spin the Elite business out of Infusionsoft. As the new owner of Elite Entrepreneurs, Brett can’t think of anything else he’d rather be doing professionally. When Brett isn’t busy helping $1M+ businesses succeed, he is a family man who enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Sharon, and their eight children.


Additional Resources:

Listen to the podcast here


This episode is one of those special times when I get to share some thoughts on my own. We call this a solo cast and I do this about once a month. Sometimes, I miss a month of a solo cast, and most of the time I bring guests in who are business owners like you who’ve been on that seven-figure growth journey and they’re sharing some of their insights. Now, I’m just going to draw on some of my own experience and some thoughts that I have that I think will help you. My goal is to have you evaluate if you have joy in your work, J-O-Y.

Many of us, or often, I come across business owners who feel like running their business starts to feel like a J-O-B instead of J-O-Y. If you set out to get a sense of freedom to carve your own path, to create your own wealth, to have an impact on the world, and find that you’re feeling drudgery, weight, and problems and that this is now a J-O-B, that’s not just sad. It’s a problem. There’s something we can do about it.

Life is short. We’ve all heard that a million times. The older I get, the more I feel the truth in that statement. Sometimes, I wish my younger self paid closer attention to that reality. We shouldn’t be spending the vast majority of our awake time every day doing something that we don’t love to do. I went and Googled online and I found a site called TakeYourSuccess.com. There’s an interesting blog post called 101 Do What You Love Quotes. I went there and I had fun reading through all 101, but I grabbed 10 of them to share with you that I especially liked, and/or I thought that you might be interested in hearing from certain people.

1) If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Most of you have heard that one, it’s attributed to Mark Anthony. 2) This is from another famous person and it’s written more like an exchange. When asked, “Mr. Gandhi, you’ve been working 15 hours a day for 50 years, don’t you think you should take a vacation?” Gandhi smiled and replied, “I am always on vacation.” That’s a cool depiction of that same truth. If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. 3) This is from George Burns. I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.

4) From Steve Jobs, another famous person. You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. 5) There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. That was Nelson Mandela. 6) From Mother Teresa, work without love is slavery. I love that one, especially for us as business owners. If we get into the pattern where our work feels like drudgery, may as well be punching a clock and working for somebody else. That doesn’t sound very enjoyable. It sounds like you’ve created a J-O-B instead of creating J-O-Y. We’re getting to the end of this. Hopefully, you like these.

7) The law of work seems unfair, but nothing can change it. The more enjoyment you get out of work, the more money you will make. That’s by Mark Twain, a famous American author and writer. 8) This one is from another writer, Ray Bradbury. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it. I love the simplicity of that one. 9) Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. I wish my kids could read this. That’s from Malcolm Gladwell. 10) This is from someone named Sister Mary Lauretta whom I wasn’t familiar with, but I love this quote. To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work.

To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work. Share on X

Maybe you’ve lost the J-O-Y in your work. Maybe running your business is starting to feel more like doing a J-O-B. If that’s the case, how did you get here? More importantly, how do you get back to enjoying your work? Let’s consider both. How did you get to this place where you no longer enjoy the work? Ironically, sometimes growing your business, and having more “success” creates more pain, not less. Think about that. You work, you toil. The old saying, we use blood, sweat, and tears to do this, to build this thing, and it starts to grow. The team gets bigger. There are more customers to take care of and more moving parts in the business that can go wrong.

The list of to-dos never seems to end, and you spend most of your time reacting to everything coming at you. That does not sound fun. The hard part is it never stops. Not as long as the business is alive. I won’t say alive and well because I don’t think it is well if you’re living that way. If the business is operating, if it’s alive, it doesn’t stop. It keeps going. If you’ve created something that feels more like a prison now than freedom, you’re going to be stuck in your own creation. Isn’t that ironic? I mentioned that already, but to bring the point home, it’s ironic that our very creation or the thing that we built ends up being our own prison. It ends up sucking the life and the joy out of us. We find ourselves having created our own J-O-B instead of something that brings joy and fulfillment.

EEP 89 | Loving What You Do

Loving What You Do: It’s ironic that our very creation, the thing that we built, ends up being our own prison and sucking the life and joy out of us. Then we find ourselves having created our own job instead of something that brings joy and fulfillment.


You might feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. You can’t get away from it. It goes with you to the grocery store, to your kids’ soccer game, or to the school play, the band, or the orchestra performance. Whatever it is that your kids do, it goes with you there. It follows you to that special dinner or night out with your significant other or spouse. It is always with you. If you get to go on a vacation at all, you’re doing this balancing act where you try to figure out when you’re going to squeeze in this task or that phone call. Maybe you get up early and stay up late to take care of the fires burning back of the office while your family’s asleep, and the next day, your lack of sleep makes the vacation anything but relaxing, you may even be a little extra cranky with your loved ones.

I know I’m guilty of having done that more than once. No wonder your successful business is starting to feel like a J-O-B. At least if you had a job, you could just punch a clock and not have to worry about everything that goes on in the business. You could keep decent hours and have your evenings and weekends be a little or even a lot more carefree with family and friends. I once had a customer write up something to describe what his life was like before working with us. His name is Bill Harney. Bill is a good friend. He’s the CEO of a company called Keeping Current Matters. Here’s what Bill said about life in the old way when business ownership was beginning to feel like a J-O-B.

He said, “Business was slowing, maybe even on the verge of stalling. I was working 70 to 80-hour work weeks just getting things done. I thought I had to do everything myself in order for it to be right. I didn’t know where we were going to be in a year nor how to get there, but I was convinced that there had to be a better way. Too many people less talented than I was were successful. Why couldn’t it be me too? I needed help. I couldn’t get there on my own.”

If you are related to any of that, I want you to mentally raise your hand. I know this isn’t an interactive experience. I’m sharing some things with you. You’re reading. “I was working 70 to 80 hour work weeks just to get things done.” That sounds too familiar for a lot of us from Bill. The sad part is a lot of us can relate to this as well. I thought I had to do everything myself for it to be right.

Enough of pulling you down with the heaviness of your current situation. Let’s talk about how to bring the J-O-Y back to your work. I’m going to give you a few ideas that I hope will be helpful. If you feel like you’re at a point where it feels hopeless, don’t count yourself out. I want you to reserve a little sliver of hope for us here, and I’ll say us. Let’s pretend we’re sitting down side by side and looking at this thing together. We’re bouncing some ideas off of one another to see if there is a way to turn this J-O-B back into some J-O-Y. We have seen business owners turn this around completely to the point where they’re having fun, having joy again in their work. I know this is completely possible, or I wouldn’t ask you to go down this path with me. A few ideas.

Bring The Power Of Purpose Into Your Business

Idea number one. You have to bring the power of purpose back into your business. Most of us have heard the story about the janitor at NASA who when asked about their job responded. They weren’t just cleaning the floors. They were helping to put a man on the moon. Do you remember JFK’s declaration? “By the end of this decade, we put a man on the moon and safely return him.” That mission became a rallying cry for everyone associated with NASA, including the janitor. I don’t know if that’s an urban legend, and I don’t care. The point is still valid.

When you ignite the flame of passion in your business, when there is purpose, a cause, and meaning in what you’re doing every day, there’s a core why. Why do we do what we do? People can get excited about your business, which engages a whole different level of excitement, energy, problem-solving, dedication, and loyalty. It unleashes a ton of positive, virtuous things in your business, and it breathes life back into it. It doesn’t just breathe life back into your business. It breathes life back into you as the business owner.

If you’ve followed me, you know that I’m a huge Jim Collins fan, advocate, follower, or whatever you want to call it. Jim Collins teaches that setting the vision is the number one responsibility of every leader. Setting the vision and getting that clarity. It starts with why. I mix Simon Sinek with Jim Collins. I get Jim Collins’ definition of setting the vision, which is about getting clear on the purpose, the values, and the mission. He starts with the values, then the purpose, and then the mission. For me, I mix a little Simon Sinek in there.

Let’s start with why. Let’s start with the purpose first. We get clear about that exciting way that we’re going to impact the world, and we get clear about the values or the who, the people that should be connected to this purpose, cause, meaning, and impact. It changes the game in your business. It makes things exciting again. If you do this well, what you’ll find is that you rediscovered some meaning in your work again. The hard stuff won’t just be a pile of work that gives you that feeling of dread, “I don’t want to do that again.” The work before you will be the things that enable you to make a difference in the world. It’ll have meaning again.

Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. This isn’t just for you. It’s also for your team. If there’s no purpose behind your work, it’s much easier to experience burnout. If you’re feeling burnout, overwhelmed, or the weight of the world on your shoulders, if you’re not feeling joy at all and it feels like drudgery, work, or a J-O-B, then I strongly encourage and invite you to spark the flame of purpose yet again in your business. If you never had it for the first time, if you had it before and somehow lost it, breathe life back into your business through a powerful purpose that people can get behind. Get excited about it, including yourself. That’s idea number one.

EEP 89 | Loving What You Do

Loving What You Do: Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. This isn’t just for you; it’s also for your team.


Get Clear On The Values

Idea number two. How to get this joy back into your life and into your business? You need to get clear on the values. I shared that briefly. Part of setting the vision is getting clear on the values, but once you get clear on the values, you need to hire, lead, and fire them. When you articulate a set of core values for the business, what you’re doing is defining the core attributes and behaviors of the people who will fit well on your team. If you’ve allowed that to drift or you’ve never done this important work, even if you did your absolute best job of hiring for skillset where it’s easy to say, “I need these skills and try to find them.” If the people don’t share a set of core values, it’s difficult to have fun working with everyone.

Filling your team with the right people and removing the people who don’t belong will do more for you than you might imagine. We had the opportunity to sit down with Jim Collins one time and he said that spending time with or tolerating B-players, or in this context, people who don’t fit with your values takes away from those people you love and those things that you love. The things that bring joy to your life will suffer because you’ll be thinking about that team member, that interaction, or that misfit in the team that’s hurting things. It’s probably wrecking your customer experience or messing with the morale or the chemistry of the team. It’s creating cleanup situations where you have to go in and make things right after the fact.

Filling your team with the right people and removing the people who don't belong will do more for you than you might imagine. Share on X

You’re spending valuable thought cycles, thinking about how to circumvent, clean up for, put up with, and carry on with the wrong team members. If you begin to hire, lead, and fire to a defined set of core values, those core attributes and behaviors of the people who will fit well on your team. Not only will you enjoy being around these people more because you all share the same values, but you’ll find that the work is getting done much faster with fewer speed bumps and much less unpleasant interpersonal friction along the way.

Some of those messy interpersonal things that happen in a team or in a business come from team members not sharing the same values. It creates a bunch of negative ripple effects on your employee experience and customer experience. Your brand gets tarnished. Your culture gets damaged by having the wrong people on the team. If you want to move from having that J-O-B that you’re barely putting up with anymore or you’re burning out on having more joy in your work, get clear about the values that you share in your business and hire, lead, and fire to them.

Get rid of people who shouldn’t be there anymore and surround yourself with people that you like to be around, not just like to be around, but who’re a great fit in the work that needs to get done. They’re a fit with the mission, and the values, they’re excited about and aligned to the purpose of the business. It will go a long way to surround yourself with great people to have joy come back into your life through the business.

Grow Yourself As A Leader

Idea number three and the last one I’m going to share with you. You need to grow yourself as a leader so you can spend more time working on the business instead of burning yourself out in the business. Most of the time, when I work with seven-figure business owners who are burning out, who are feeling like, “ I just created myself the worst job ever,” they’re stuck working in the business and not working on the business the way that they could or should. Your business can’t grow any further than your personal ability to lead it.

That extends to a leadership team. If you’re still one owner, one leader, and lots of team members, it all rests on you. If you’ve begun to form a leadership team and scale and you have a group of leaders that are around you, your business can grow as far as that collective leadership team can take it. It all starts with you. If you want to grow yourself, then you can grow your business. If you grow yourself, you’ll find you have more enjoyment in the process of working on your business than being stuck working like crazy to do everything required in the business.

You want to move from working in the business to doing the company building, leading work, and the future enabling work that will require your business to move beyond the point that it is now. When you stop growing as a leader, you may as well consign yourself to the hamster wheel called J-O-B. I’m equating the hamster wheel analogy. We all talk about being stuck on the hamster wheel sometimes. I’m going to equate that with the phenomenon of running a business called I Created Myself a J-O-B, where you just run and run. There’s no progress, no change of scenery, everything looks, smells, and tastes the same, and never changes because that’s what you’ve created for yourself.

The only way to get out from underneath the weight that you feel on your shoulders to jump off of that hamster wheel is to learn how to become a leader, set a powerful vision, build and align a team to that vision, and give the right people more ownership. You can learn how to take chunks of that weight that you’re feeling and assign ownership of those responsibilities to capable team members if you learn how to be a better leader.

In the past decades, there has been more scientific research about happiness than ever before. I’ve shared my three ideas about how to turn your J-O-B into more J-O-Y. You’ve got to be clear on the purpose. Get clear on the values, hire, lead, and fire a team that you like to be with and work well with, and then work on yourself as a leader. I want to tie it to the happiness science that’s been out there over the last couple of decades. More research has been done on this stuff. I’m not a happiness expert, but here’s what I’ve learned about happiness at work.

People like to have as much autonomy as possible. It’s the ability to direct their own work. You already have that as a business owner, so I’m not going to spend any more time on that. The other three things people need to be happy at work are, “Happy people are involved in meaningful work, know that their work matters, and they’re contributing to something greater.” Remember that I talked about purpose as the first idea I shared with you. That’s a real ingredient in this happiness recipe for you. It’s meaningful work and you have full control over what the purpose of your business will be.

The second thing that happiness science has revealed about happy people at work is that they enjoy personal connections at work. In other words, they like the people they work with and feel some identity with them. Think of this as a sense of team or a sense of belonging. We used to use the term esprit de corps way back in the day. Belonging is the more current term. Remember the second idea I shared with you? Get the values in place and then higher lead and fire to them. That’s all we’re talking about here. When you get the team in place that you like to be with, those personal connections will be more meaningful at work. It’ll lead to more happiness for you and your team members.

The last thing taken away from happiness science to share with you is that happy people at work feel a sense of progress. They’re growing, learning, and getting better. Remember idea number three that I shared with you? If you grow yourself as a leader, you can grow beyond the place that you’re at right now and not stay stuck and feel like you’ve created a J-O-B. You can make the transition from scrappy, gritty, and will-it-forward founder/entrepreneur. You can make the transition from that to becoming a capable, confident, and happy business builder but you have to work on developing as a leader.

You can grow beyond the place you're at right now if you grow yourself as a leader. Share on X

I told you what Bill Harney wrote to us about his business stalling, how much he was working, and how he didn’t know what to do. We taught him what to do. We showed him a path and we called it the Elite Business Growth Method. We taught it to him and he set a powerful vision with his team. Their vision includes this statement, “A belief that every family should feel confident when buying and selling a home.” You don’t have to know anything about their business. I told you it’s called Keeping Current Matters, but you now know the thing that drives everything that they do is this belief. This is their purpose. A belief that every family should feel confident when buying and selling a home.

That’s what they’re dedicated to. That’s the cause that they do everything for and they’ve aligned their team and built their business around that purpose. It’s very fulfilling to them. They’ve created also a set of values that guides their day-to-day behavior and helps them know what type of people would make great team members for them. They’ve created and nurtured an amazing culture. Their team loves to work there.

Bill’s company was recognized multiple times as 1 of the top 25 best small workplaces in America, not in his town, not in Richmond, Virginia, where he is located, not in his state, but in America. We went from feeling like, “This is drudgery. This feels like a job. I don’t know what to do. I’m stuck,” to, “I’ve created something amazing, and I’m getting national recognition for the great workplace that I’ve created.” How cool is that?

Bill wrote a rest of the story type of email to us where he shared what it was like to triple their revenue in 18 to 24 months while getting more balance back in his life. That wasn’t a trade-off. He tripled his business, got more balance back in his life, and has a ton of joy again in his work. Here’s what he said in his own words. “I want to tell you the story from the other side. The side where your business is booming. Your team energizes you every day. You’re no longer stuck in the weeds and you have the confidence to make the right decision instead of the urgent decision. What changed? It’s honestly quite simple. I signed up for Elite Ignition. I learned and studied but most importantly implemented. I trusted the process and believed the results would come, and they did.”

“Elite Ignition and the Elite programs aren’t marketing workshops or software classes, but it’s been the key to our 3X growth in the last 24 months. I learned how to be a CEO and not just an entrepreneur. I learned how to set and communicate a big vision the right way. My team is inspired and motivated. The growth that I’ve seen from every person on the team has been mind-blowing and my growth has changed me forever.”

I hope you hear the contrast between the initial descriptions from Bill that felt like a J-O-B. It might be the place that you’re personally sitting in right now. I feel like I’ve created a J-O-B. It feels heavy, weighty, never-ending, and hopeless. Whatever it feels for you, that’s where Bill was. Now you see the difference where he’s energized and his team is inspired and motivated. They’re having fun. They have purpose-filled meaningful work. All of that is different now because he learned how to make that transition from entrepreneur to CEO.

From scrappy founder who works their tail off to capable business builder who knows how to set a powerful vision, build a team, and get great results without burning out. You can do this. Bill was a guest on one of our earliest show episodes. You can go way back to Episode 6 to learn how Bill shares some of the lessons he’s learned as he went from a very chaotic pace running a million-dollar business to a much more calm and balanced life running a business that is now well beyond $5 million in revenue.

If you’re a seven-figure business owner who’s found that you’ve created a demanding and exhausting J-O-B for yourself, we can help you turn that into J-O-Y. We can transform that J-O-B back into J-O-Y. It’s doable. We know this proven path. We’ve taught it to hundreds of other business owners like you over the past years. We can teach you. We’ve taught blue-collar businesses, software businesses, and professional services. The industry doesn’t even matter and we’ve taught people from all over the world these same principles, tools, processes, and techniques. We can teach you how to find joy again in building your business.

EEP 89 | Loving What You Do

Loving What You Do: If you’re a seven-figure business owner and found you’ve created a demanding and exhausting JOB for yourself, Elite Entrepreneurs can help you turn that into JOY.


If you want more information about that, I encourage you to go to our website, GrowWithElite.com, and download our free eBook about the Elite Business Growth Method. If you already know, I need to make the changes. You can go right to the information on our site about Elite Ignition, which is an easy way to learn our Elite Business Growth Method and get started on the path to more joy in your business.

Thank you so much for tuning in. Join us next time to hear other seven-figure business owners and experts share the things that will help you avoid some of the pitfalls that we all encounter after we hit that seven-figure revenue mark. I want so much for you to get out of having a J-O-B and have a business that brings you and everyone associated with it a bunch of joy.


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