Interview with Mike Irving from Advanced Business Abilities

by Joshua Strawczynski

Voiceover: 0:02

Business owners. Do you want an unfair advantage over your competitors? Do you want to dominate in your area of expertise? You are listening to business life hacks, learn to influence consumer psychology and shortcut your way to business success with tips, tricks, and hacks from award-winning digital agency, J Marketing.

Josh Strawczynski: 0:26

Welcome to business life hacks. This is the first live cast video, which we’ll also be going to the podcast channel, really excited about it. And I’m really excited that our first guest for this live one is Mike Irvin from advanced Business Abilities. Mike, how are you doing?

Mike Irvin: 0:45

Good, Josh. How are you going, man?

Josh Strawczynski: 0:47

Awesome. I’m really, really glad to have you on here. Mike holds a very special place in my heart. We’re the agency for his business and I’m also his student, which is the right way to put it. Mike is a business coach for lack of a better word who has unlocked in me and the rest of the students, unbelievable growth.

And I am really excited today to delve into Mike addressing the question of what holds business owners back, what holds them back personally, what help holds their business back and what holds them back from getting the most out of their employees, all pretty common questions. What do you see across the board? What’s the commonality that you see as a coach?

Mike Irvin: 1:35

The commonality and the direct answer to the question is always you. What holds you back? you do. Something about you, something about the way that you think, something about the way that you view the world or the ideas that you have about what’s true and what’s not. It’s a fascinating topic and we’ve got a way that we help people, to identify exactly what is it about you, that restricts you or holds you back.

These are experiences that happen in our lives when we’re young and they continue all the way through life, that if you want to use a fancy word for them, you can call them trauma. But they’re essentially moments that happen where we are unwilling to experience something. And when we’re unwilling to experience something, it creates a wound. It creates a scar on your mind. And that impacts you in your decision making later.

Josh Strawczynski: 2:29

So I’m curious about this and I will say, I guess I already know this. I didn’t recognize that when I very first started working with you, I thought I was always in control, a great decision-maker and I could do anything. But do we all have trauma? Do we all have something holding us back in some ways, even the Zen masters?

Mike Irvin: 2:52

Well, you know, when I’m asked that question, my response is to ask you a question in return. Which is well do you have something that is, that you know, in your heart of hearts that you’re held back by. And I think anyone who’s really honest will answer yes, to that question. Every person has things that have occurred in their life that have impacted them, that have hurt, that have caused pain.

And we know if you reach out and touch the hot pan on the stove when it’s really hot, then you don’t do that again. You avoid it, right? Well, that same thing happens in life. If you were bullied, when you were 10 years old on the school playground by a certain type of person, the chances are that every time you meet that type of person later in life, you’re going to have some level of resistance to dealing with them. So, we all have that. We all have our own blind spots.

Josh Strawczynski: 3:52

I can talk to that firsthand. Mike, sometimes I think people might get confused when we talk about bullyings because they were always popular at school or I never had that issue. But one of the experiences I’ve had with you was, I came to you and said that I had these great meetings with clients. And then, in the height of writing the proposal and I take a week to do it. And I write 10,000 words and you got right under the cover of that.

What does that mean? Why do you do that? And I’m happy for you to share anything you like about me. But the mayor was a big part of it was you bringing to my awareness, my fear of not being liked. And it just unlocked so much in me, imagine everyone has something they’re either aware of or not even aware of. I assume just knowing about it, it improves your ability to deal with it, let alone actually dealing with it.

Mike Irvin: 4:51

A hundred percent. The number one key is awareness, being aware of and being an observer of yourself, your thoughts, your ideas, your attitudes. You know, we think all the time, if you want to raise your arm right now, you just do it. But don’t miss that, that’s something that you’ve thought about first, right? So our thoughts are the things that create our realities. But we have lots of thoughts that we don’t even consider every day. We don’t inspect them, we’re not aware of them, we don’t observe them, they just happen.

All of those thoughts are still having an impact on the reality that we create for ourselves. So if we’re sitting and thinking, I really just want to make sure this person likes me, I don’t want to upset anybody. I want to make sure that they view me in a certain way. Those thoughts are happening at a million miles an hour and they impact our decision-making, they impact the way that we interact with the world.

Josh Strawczynski: 6:00

So this is a nice tire, so we gonna go straight into your story, but I’m interested in business owners in particular and people that are trying to be better. Whether it’s at a small business level or right up there at a multinational level. What are some of the commonalities that you hear from business owners, executives, even high-performance salespeople of ways they’re being held back?

Mike Irvin: 6:26

So probably the most general and specific answer I can give you to that question is that they are in one way, shape or form or another attempting to use force, to get things done. They’re attempting to push hard and make it happen and force it to happen. And you know that they are attempting to alter something that is using force.

And the reality is that that’s just hard work and it’s also not sustainable in the long term, it’s the thing, one of the things that lead to burnout. So I’m doing that and giving people a different way to approach the targets that they set so that they’re able to find greater effortlessness rather than using force. That’s a real key component right there.

Josh Strawczynski: 7:20

I also want to bring up one that I’ve seen your students mentioned a hell of a lot, which is I don’t get paid the amount that I deserve, or I don’t or fear asking for the amount that I deserve. So you get yourself into these tricky situations, it’s another stupid common one right?

Mike Irvin: 7:37

A hundred percent and that indicates that there are ways that they think about either money or their value or what someone else will perceive about them. If they ask for the amount of money that they want. And if they don’t want to upset someone, if they really want people to like them, that’s gonna generally cause them to work for less than what they are really worth or work for less than what they produce is worth.

Josh Strawczynski: 8:08

There are about a hundred people, including clients. I’m hoping that that relates to. And so then if someone’s not getting paid, what they think they’re worth, or they somehow find themselves constantly putting up low-value proposals, how do you treat that? Do you just tell them to now, raise your price or does it go deeper than that?

Mike Irvin: 8:29

One of the things that I’ve learned is that it really doesn’t work for me to tell someone anything, because the moment I’m telling them it’s then my idea and whatever the resistance is, that is in their way in the first place is going to pop up and prove to them that what I’ve said is wrong or incorrect. And I don’t know what I’m talking about. So no, it is much, it more than that because it’s absolutely mandatory that it’s their thought to change it. Not mine.

Josh Strawczynski: 9:04

So if it’s their thought let’s segue into it, we’re going a little out of what I planned. What differentiates you as a coach is not having an opinion, but using actual science and data, how do you get to that?

Mike Irvin: 9:20

Awesome question. So that’s, we’ve got a series of diagnostic tools that one of the members of our research team spent 40 years creating and it takes , roughly two hours for someone to complete them. So they’re not just short little personality tests. They are very, very in-depth and they give us a visual display. We get a series of graphs that measure the traits that create or impede success.

So success is not a secret, people achieving things, it’s not a mystery. We know what that looks like. And we get a comparative data analysis. So we can say, right, people who are business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, the most successful ones look like this, their graph on this trait fits in here. Where’s your graph sit?

Josh Strawczynski: 10:18

So every time I mentioned this to someone, they always say, this is a Myers-Briggs test. Is that what we’re talking about?

Mike Irvin: 10:26

No, definitely not. You know, your Myers-Briggs tests and tests and your disc profiles, are valuable. They will give you a general idea of somebody’s personality. What is their dominant behavioural quadrant? And so they have value. What we’re really interested in is a far greater level of detail than that. We want to understand you specifically, not generally.

So not your dominant quadrant is this one. And generally, that means you’re going to behave this way. We take those four quadrants and break them down into the individual traits that make up that quadrant. And we can measure each of those traits independently.

We also then look at how different traits across different quadrants interact together. That gives us insight and detail into the way you individually think, that is what then allows us to guide a person through a process to change what her traits say, and therefore change their quadrant makeup.

And on top of that, we measure attitude and integrity traits and general competency traits that also dramatically impact a person’s ability to get what they want.

Josh Strawczynski: 11:41

So when you’re coaching, you will not just treat symptoms. You’re actually working towards a vision of where you want that person to go. And you’re measuring, that change. What are you shooting for?

Mike Irvin: 11:53

I’ll actually just adjust something that you said, right then. We’re not aiming for where we want them to go. We’re actually aiming for where they want to go. They tell us what they want. They tell us what adjustments they would like to make. It’s never about what we want. It’s about a consultative approach where firstly, they tell us whether or not they agree with the tests, right?

And then if they do fantastic, then they tell us what they would like to be different. And we ask a lot of questions to make sure that that’s aligned with what they’ve told us. They want prior to that point. And we make sure that we’re aiming an arrow at a very specific bullseye together. And we want that arrow to land in the bullseye.

Josh Strawczynski: 12:40

So for those people that I know this is going to be a lot of your clients because you’re dealing with business owners, executives, salespeople, this probably a fairly common trait that they want success. They want growth. They want to do business with more ease. There’s a fairly common ultimate mindset that you would steer them towards, or at least would fit that criterion, right?

Mike Irvin: 13:04

If you want it to call it the millionaire’s mindset and I don’t talk about that necessarily just from a money point of view, that’s much more about the ability to get what you want, if much more money is something you want, great that fits, but that millionaires mindset is about your ability to get what you want, your ability to build your business, to be what you want it to be.

Josh Strawczynski: 13:28

Actually, that’s interesting. So straight into business, which is obviously my sweet spot for our podcast, but I assume that also ties into relationships and every other part of your life as well.

Mike Irvin: 13:40

There’s a common denominator between your business and your marriage or your partnership, your friendships with people outside of work. And the common denominator is you. And so what you create in one area will be reflected in all of the other areas. It might just reflect differently. The skills are the same or very similar. So when you develop those attributes, when we alter the traits on these graphs, then that alters behaviour, not just in one area of life.

Josh Strawczynski: 14:17

I can say it firsthand because I didn’t believe it until I experienced it. I was very sceptical. I thought I can just control everything and I can always find a solution because I’m such a great researcher. It has been really amazing working with you, just pushing down on a few of those little sore spots for me and either helping me to get past them and address them head-on, or to realize that, I’m doing a job that could be done by someone else. And I’m overbearing with the way that I’m doing it, so it’s bottlenecking me. Our company has doubled in size since I’ve been able to unbottleneck myself.

Awesome! Well, there are two things that I would love to know about before we wrap up. The first thing I’ll say though and at one point because we do have a lot of business coaches that I talk to quite regularly, what I find really interesting about you is that you’re interested in the science behind how people think and how to help unlock them.

We’ve never talked about spreadsheets. We’ve never talked about business processes, most coaches coach because they can’t do, you did do, you built a huge sales organization. How many salespeople did you have working for you?

Mike Irvin: 15:36

We at our biggest, we had 300 sales reps in three cities across Australia.

Josh Strawczynski: 15:41

That’s for a different business. Nothing to do with advanced business abilities.

Mike Irvin: 15:44

That’s correct, that was the business that I was running prior to starting down this journey.

Josh Strawczynski: 15:50

I know it’s a long story. What’s the bridged version of why you would throw being the head of 300 people across Australia.

Mike Irvin: 16:00

A bridged version, I was approaching 30. So just before I turned 30, I had what looked like an awesome life. I had houses and cars and money and motorbikes. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t enjoying my life. I was totally disillusioned. I thought life was going to be awesome when I had all that stuff and it just wasn’t and I wanted that to be different. And so I had hired business coaches.

I’d worked with people and I found that they all had good information and most of the time, it actually just added more stress and anxiety to my life. I had somebody calling me going, “have you done this yet? Have you done this yet? How come? Why not? What are you doing?” That did not help me to feel better and as chance would have it, you know, I’m a believer in luck. And I believe that we create our own luck.

In 2006, I met my research team and I met them because I was searching for help. And I invested in taking these diagnostic tools we spoke about and they revealed a whole bunch of things about me that I couldn’t see that I was creating my own problems. And I was absolutely intentional about changing that. And the end result after what initially was a six-month coaching program to help me.

I made the decision to shut down the business. I had been running for 10 years. I sold the assets. I walked away. I took a bit of time off and did a bit of travelling and re-evaluated every part of my life. I couldn’t believe how different I felt and I decided that I wanted to understand everything about how they did that for me. I could not let that go, it was essential that I get an understanding, of how they did that.

Now, they were a lot older than me. Well, they still are. And long story short, I asked them if they would be willing to teach me and mentor me on how they helped me achieve the change that I got because I figured I could probably help a lot of people over the next 20, 30, 40 years. If I learned how to do that.

Josh Strawczynski: 18:08

That to me, that’s remarkable because there’s a lot of people that sell stuff because it makes them an income. There’s not a lot of people that walk away from a huge income to then go and chase something that they know at the time, nothing about other than it was pretty interesting. So that really speaks to exactly what you believe in what you’re preaching. And it is that powerful that you would give up or you had to, to chase the better version of you. Do you regret it? Do you miss the cars, the women, all that fun stuff?

Mike Irvin: 18:40

Not for a second. And you know, I have so much more now, money is great money doesn’t sit in my top 10. It’s important. And it’s not that I don’t want it. Like, obviously I’m just like any other bloke. I still love going out riding dirt bikes and having a good time. But what is more valuable to me is understanding and skills, the ability to really know that I can help someone else change and support them to get what they want. I figured if I can do that, I can always make more money. That’s never a problem.

Josh Strawczynski: 19:21

A hundred percent sure. And that’s probably the right question to finish on, which is that everyone says they can coach. Everyone’s got a methodology, but the proof is in the pudding. I’ve seen it firsthand. But tell me, what is a common outcome for someone that starts working with you? What growth do they see? What change, what do they report back to you? Tell us about what’s reasonable expectations.

Mike Irvin: 19:45

It depends on the person. And it’s really common that we have earnings that double or triple or quadruple. And in some cases, eight and 10 times their revenue and grow their business. I think one of the things that I like the most is that our clients always report that their relationships improve and that’s across all areas of their life and the sense and feeling of calm, that they’re competent.

They can go and get what they want. Now, those are the things I think are the most measurable. We use our diagnostic tools as a measurement to determine, did we actually hit the bullseye. That’s one thing, the business to grow. It’s something else to go, right, we were specifically aiming to change these three traits. Did they change and start six and 12 months down the track. We have the opportunity to measure that and then re-evaluate in terms of whether or not there’s anything else that that person wants help with.

Josh Strawczynski: 20:41

We’ve run out of time. So I didn’t get a chance to really delve into all of the ways that you’ve helped businesses and helped us. What I will summarize it by saying is that personally, I’ve seen phenomenal growth in my ability to focus on high-value tasks, stay focused on, and self-inspect whenever I feel pressure and really work out why I’m feeling that pressure and how to deal with it effectively, which just as a result, so rapid growth.

But the other application, which most people wouldn’t know about is in finding, unicorn staff. And you helped me to identify what is good staff and what is the bad staff. And I found an absolute unicorn by using your predictive profiles and I can’t wait to do that again in a sentence. So whatever’s quick for you. Should everyone be using the predictive profiles and can everyone use the predictive profiles to find what’s a good staff member?

Mike Irvin: 21:44

Everyone Can. I know personally, I would never, ever, ever hire anyone in any organization that I have any degree of influence over or degree of control over. I would never hire anybody without putting them through the predictors because I’ve been wrong way too many times. And I’m pretty good. Like I’ve got a lot of experience recruiting people. Like I’m not, you know, I’ve been recruiting people for 24 years, 25 years, and it’s really easy to get it wrong. You know, it’s a 50 50 shot.

You might as well take whatever money you were going to pay that person in a year. Instead of hiring somebody, go to the casino and go red or black, because that’s pretty much what the odds are. We have a way of helping people shift those odds to be dramatically more in your favour. Unicorns are rare, but they do exist when it comes to hiring. So, yeah, it’s pretty cool. And maybe we can do this again and go into a little bit more detail about that.

Josh Strawczynski: 22:41

Let’s do that. So if anyone has been listening to this and they’re interested in finding out more, where do they go? What’s the easy next?

Mike Irvin: 22:47

Easy next step. Go to And we’d be really happy to meet with you. Have a good conversation, look to understand exactly what you’re hoping we might be able to help you with. And if we can help then, we’ll work your way through how we can do that.

Josh Strawczynski: 23:02

Mike, I should have known that we needed four hours, not 20 minutes to do this. I love talking to you and we’ve got so much more to go to in another episode, thank you for being on the first live stream. And I look forward to chatting with you again.

Mike Irvin: 23:19

Pleasure mate. Happy to do it anytime. Thanks, Josh.

Josh Strawczynski: 23:21

Awesome. See you mate.

About the Author

Joshua Strawczynski
Managing Director

An expert in influencing consumer behaviour online. Josh is an award-winning digital marketer, business manager and best selling author. He regularly appears in the media, providing insights into using influence tactics to enhance marketing strategy effectiveness.

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