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Welcome to Underdog. Today we have a very very special guest, Joseph McClendon III. Joseph McClendon III is a doctor of neuropsychology and one of the most sought after ultimate performance specialists in the industry. Joseph has authored several best-selling books, including two co-authorships with the world-famous Tony Robbins, and has shared the stage with him for nearly three decades as a driven philanthropist and humanist. Joseph’s most recent project is the development of a program with Forrest Whitaker and the United Nations to foster psychology shifts in child soldiers and forgotten battle babies of war-torn countries around the world. At his core, Joseph is an expert in coaching business professionals to overcome behaviors and inner and outer obstacles that may impede their results and affect their bottom line. Joseph provides you with the influence skills and tools that give you the competitive advantage necessary to prosper in the marketplace of the new millennium. Joseph, welcome.
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you so much for being here. My gosh, am I excited to introduce to you this wonderful gentleman who has done so many remarkable things? My God, where do I even start with you, Joseph, I’d love to hear your story from, sort of the beginning and sort of where you started, where you’ve been and sort of where you’re headed, that would be remarkable to hear.
Sure, I’ll tell you what I’ll start with where I am now. And in my profession, I am a neuropsychologist, I help people get over fears and phobias, and emotional challenges in their lives at a practice in Los Angeles for many years. And because it was LA, it was on let’s just say, both feet in a fire and hands all at once, because it’s Los Angeles. And I’m just going to say it is freak city. Imagine everybody I mean, the things that I trained for would be like your traditional fears and phobias and things like that. But the things that came out of the woodwork in Los Angeles were just crazy. And so it was trial by fire. And it was a good training, because I got to deal with some of the worst of the worst. And just in terms of emotional challenges and things like that. And you know, I’m facetious about it sometimes, but I take it very, very seriously, because people, they wind up where they are in their lives as a result of oftentimes trauma, they wind up in my office because of trauma, and some of those traumas just anywhere from sexual abuse, to just physical abuse, mental abuse, to the simple things like fear of dogs and fear, things like that.
And so because I’m a neuropsychologist versus traditional psychology, I actually have five different ways to enter somebody’s world and help work with them. And so I can get results fairly, pretty quickly. That is what I do, have done, by far as a profession, but by trade, I’m what’s known as an ultimate performance specialist. And I have the privilege of kind of a high-end life coach, if you will, of working with, let’s just say, some high-end people, for lack of a better term that Academy Award-winning movie stars and Grammy winners and major sports figures and everything in between… and my outcome is always to help them get what they want, which is all the time they want to go further faster. And so taking the skills from the neurosciences and moving into that, I have the privilege of doing that and up until COVID I was speaking in front of easily 10 to 20,000 people every month, internationally… when COVID hit that the legs just got cut out from underneath that it was actually a blessing in disguise.
Because I mean, I move pretty fast as you might imagine. But it allowed me to enjoy the fruits of my labor here in my own home in my own family. And so that’s where I am now, what brought me to this place to do what I do is, you know, you call it Underdog and I always call it the hero’s story. And what I mean by that it’s the oldest story in the book. It’s from slavery to freedom. It’s from tragedy to triumph and that kind of thing. And I had a really great upbringing I had, you know, both my parents were awesome people. And they taught us my great work ethic and they taught us great integrity and things like that. But when I was 17, and a half years old, that got taken away from me, because three grown men tried to take my life because of the color of my skin. And they left me for dead and those scars, they healed, but the emotional side of it didn’t. And a very short time after that, I became homeless. And they took my dignity, took my pride, and all of the things that I’d learned as a child went out the window. And what changed my life was somebody that I didn’t know.
Somebody that was a kind person gave me a book, the book was called Think and Grow Rich. And yeah, it is the Bible of personal development. And I always say to people, a lot of us have read the book. I read the book, and I was desperate at the time. And I did everything, the book said. Cover to cover every exercise, every suggestion, and I read it a couple of times. And long story short, my life changed. Like you, the first thing I did was real estate. That was my first financial fortune if you will. But I went back to that person. Not long after, I got the book, and my life started to change. And I said, you know, how do I serve you? How do I give back to you, because you changed my life? And what he said to me, he goes, Joseph, you give back to me, you repay me, by doing the same thing that I’ve done for you for as many people as you possibly can for the rest of your life.
Now, you know, I got to be honest, when I was younger, I didn’t really take it as seriously as I do now. But as I started to progress, that became my mission and my passion, and my purpose in life. So that’s, that’s why I do what I do.
That is remarkable. Oh, that’s so powerful. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. Wow. And then. So how did you go down the route of the neuropsychology… was that due to the trauma that you went through?
So yeah, it was, I recognized, I have a lot of demons. And, you know, thinking about this today, I should have written the book, how I learned to hate myself. And I really did. I mean, it was self-loathing along with, on not to cross too soon or into this conversation, along with if you have black skin in this country, you have a psychological trauma. So that accompanied that as well. And I quickly realized that I needed help, psychologically. So I’ll be honest with you, though, and I say this to anybody that studies the neurosciences or psychology or anything like that. We always go after saying we’re going to help other people. That’s why we’re doing it. But the reality was, is I went after to help myself.
So I knew I couldn’t help anybody else unless to help myself. And I started, you know, on that path, I studied traditional psychology first. And then, very long story short, as my journey got further along. I remember I had one of my professors say, psychology is the only field that you get paid for being ineffective. And I remember asking, What do you mean by that? And she said, Well, and she was being facetious when she said it, she was joking around, she said, Well, if you come in, and you have a problem, and I fixed that problem in one visit, then you’re not going to keep coming back and giving me money. And I remember thinking, well, that’s not fair. And it actually discouraged me. And I took another route from there. Until I realized that there was a quicker way, and a more lasting way to get that resolved. Because I felt like well, if somebody is in pain, the last thing they want to do is take a long time. And I honor that if people like for example, grieving is a different story, grieving, and loss of love and things like that, that I and anything, I don’t rush it unless that person is ready. All right, if you’re ready, we can get through those things fairly quick. And so to answer your question, it was to help myself so that I can help other people.
Fascinating. So, you know, often, oftentimes, so when we hit rock bottom, and it sounds like sort of that’s, that’s where you are, the whole inspiration behind the show was like, you know, how do you get past that hump, right? Because after you get past that hump, it’s like, oh, you know, we’re rolling, we’re rocking and rolling. But how do we get past that hump? to get that mentality of how do we keep going? Now, during that time, when you were just getting into neuropsychology and all of this, what was the thing that kept you going in your mind? Like any sort of like inspiration? Or you know, what was the thought process that sort of got you through that? Because it sounds like once you went to neuropsychology, everything sort of improved for you because it was almost therapeutic to yourself. Now, how did you sort of get to that face?
Um, from an intellectual side, an intellectual answer is, is the world is all after love, after acceptance in love, whether it is our parents love or whether it’s the love of another, another person that you know, a romantic level, or if it’s the love of people you don’t know. That is why fear of rejection is the number one fear that we have in human beings. It’s built into us as part of our DNA to keep somebody around us otherwise we’ll die… human beings are the only creature that needs somebody else for its emotional and physical needs past the age of three years old; I think elephants are like two and a half, three years old, human beings, some of us 34.
Now. But we know that instinctively, our Creator gave us that instinct, because it’s a fear of death. And it never goes away. However, we can mitigate it. And we can, we can make it so that fear does not live in us that stress does not live in us anymore for a few seconds.
And so, my motivation, I can say it was three things. Number one was the acceptance and love of my parents, I didn’t want to disappoint them. My father and my mother were very accomplished people. My father with was a military man, 26 years in the Air Force, but he also went to night school and got his master’s degree; my mom was an opera singer. And so they taught us those things. And I felt like I let them down when I became homeless, and so that was, the first thing is I wanted to make them proud. I knew they loved me, that wasn’t the point is just, I felt like I needed to show them that their investment in me, as a child, was not all for nothing.
And the second thing was I wanted to, I wanted the acceptance of my peers around me, I wanted the acceptance of the people that I looked up to, and that I hung out with and because, you know, I would see my friends might see people that I went to high school with and things like that, that were progressing in their life. And I was so ashamed; nobody knew I was homeless, I literally would, you know, what, we call it the imposter syndrome now, but I would literally go out during the day. And if people would, nobody would really ask, you know, what are you, what do you sleep with, that kind of thing. And so, um, my internal drive was to, to be successful to show everybody else.
And then the third thing my drive was, or my goal was what I said before, was I wanted to better myself so that I could be an example. I wasn’t teaching theory, so I wasn’t going and telling people, you know, you can be successful, you can do this, if I wasn’t that way myself.
That’s so powerful. That is, Oh, my gosh, you know, what, I hear stories like this, I’m so inspired. And I’m just like, it lights a fuel to me every single time. So to hear you go from homeless to where you are now is absolutely remarkable. Because, you know, sometimes in our day and age, and this is why I really created this is like, you know, the entrepreneur, you know, everybody looks at where you’re at now, right? And they’re like, you know, and then you’re like, wait, but there’s this whole process that happens, sort of before that. Now, in your thought process, with all of this going on now. It just fascinates me. Like, how did you get over that hump? You know, with those three motivational things like what was like your big aha moment? And sort of how did things really how did the momentum like, keep rolling, you know, because you were at that stage, and then it just seemed like it was like, step by step, and then it just boom.
The AHA was boom, but the actual activities and making the changes took a bit longer, it’s always easier to go back and say, Well, I was this and then I was this, there was time in between there. You know, I left out a whole bunch of stuff. But the AHA was the moment that I realized that Wait a minute, I can not only control my thoughts, but I can program myself to think a certain way. And because I can do that, then I can program myself how to feel about myself, about other people, about the world around us. And if I can control how I feel and program how I feel, then I could also program what I do. And that aha was like big for me. Because I realized, wait a minute, I can be in control. And it doesn’t matter what happened to me… and there’s people that’ve had certainly worse things happen than I had. But my conversation with myself, my constant conversation with myself about myself, which wasn’t about other people, which wasn’t great, and about what the world represented. And the world around me wasn’t great. And so once I realized that, wait a minute, I can change the program, that conversation, which is just my thoughts, and then everything will cascade from there. That was the AHA.
Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my remarklably inspiring interview with Joseph McClendon III.