How Ed Mylett built a career through caregiving

Foundr Magazine publishes in-depth interviews with the world’s best entrepreneurs. Our articles highlight the key takeaways from each month’s cover feature. We talked to Ed Mylett, best-selling author and performance coach, about how he built his brand from reading people. To read more, subscribe to the magazine.


Just the other day, Ed Mylett got into an Uber with his wife and did something unexpected, at least to the driver: He asked the driver to tell his story.

The driver was a refugee from Lebanon with three children at Harvard, Yale and Stanford. And in the three years he’d been driving, no one had ever asked him a question like that.

Mylett listened carefully, a habit she has cultivated for many years. And in the end, she thanked the man for his story.

Mylett, businesswoman, best-selling author, performance coach, and speaker, has landed on the Forbes 50 Richest Under 50 List and was recognized as one of the richest self-made people in the world in his 30s, although he would say it is “team-made”.

He has his hand in a number of businesses, including food, health and fitness, real estate, YouTube video, and a social media empire. And he has also published two books: #Make the most of your life and recently, The power of one more.

But there is still time to hear a good story. In fact, it is one of the pillars of his success: taking the time to be present and care about people.

Building a career caring

Mylett can almost always tell you what you need.

“What I’m pretty good at, and I’m right 95 percent of the time, is that I can distill what [your] needs are,” he says. “Is it certain? Is love? Or connection? Is it meaning and recognition? Is it growth? Or is it a contribution?

You can also know where your strengths lie and discover them within five minutes of starting a conversation.

“It’s your parenting skills, your intellect. It’s your problem solver. It is your resilience. It’s your toughness. It’s your kinesthetic touch. It’s your mood, right?

People reading. It’s a skill he developed at a young age when he learned to read the mood of his alcoholic father.

“And I could read to my dad at five.”

He remembers that he could tell with the slightest gesture if it was a sober or drunk father. “And then my second skill would come into play: my ability to persuade.”

He would take his father by the hand and move him around the house, telling him about his day at school and distracting him.

When Mylett was 15, her father got sober for good. That was a turning point for him. He asked his father if he was going to stay sober. His father simply said, “I don’t know. I’m just not going to drink for one more day.”

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That philosophy of another day stuck with him.

It was his father who got him his first job as a counselor at a youth center for teenage boys, a job that would shape everything Mylett would do from then on.

Many biographies on Mylett cite his work in the financial sector as the start of his career. But Mylett would tell you that she actually started at the orphanage.

“What I learned was a lesson that I have carried throughout my business career,” he says. “Those kids wanted someone who loved them, who cared about them. And here is the big hook: believe in them and then show them how to live better. … And I took those same beliefs with adults in business that everyone who was a client of mine or worked with me wanted someone to love them, care about them, believe in them, and show them how to do better. And so, ironically, my career began in an orphanage.”

leadership through caring

Mylett keeps more than 17 companies running by hand-selecting leaders who exhibit the same qualities he expects of himself: caring about people and caring about the mission.

First, he expects his leaders to care about their employees as much as he does.

“When I interview someone to come work with me, I always say, ‘Listen, at the end of the day, this is what I want for you. I will love you. I care about you and I believe in you. We’ll show you how to do it better. What is the final result, you will be happy [came to work for me].’”

Second, you want a leader who shows candor.

“I think it’s okay to go to people and say, ‘Guys, we’re going through a tough time right now. These things need improvement, but let me tell you where we’re going.’”

Next, they must be cause-oriented leaders, evangelists who can rally people behind their aspirations. They do it, first of all, by making people believe that they really believe in the mission.

“The person who is always trying to make you believe him is desperate; they are a beggar. They are less than you. The person who is simply trying to make you feel the energy to believe what he says is persuasive. And that’s the subtle difference.”

And they have to be good at identifying enemies. That is, there must be something that the company or product is up against, something through which it must persevere.

“What we oppose could be obesity if you’re in the gym business. That could be debt or being broke if you’re in the finance business, or it could even be another organization. But you have to be for and against something, and the more you can create both dynamics, the more evangelical you can be about your cause.”

Finally, successful leaders and entrepreneurs must remember that they are not selling a product. They are selling happiness.

Mylett points to McDonald’s as a key example.

“Somehow they got people to associate happiness with fast food. His pet is a clown. What does a clown have to do with food? Absolutely nothing. But they learned the bond. Your number 1 selling food? A Happy Box.”

But it all comes down to Mylett taking the time to really be there for people, whether they’re employees, customers, or even yourself, and being intentional in your interactions.

“In life, we are always making people feel something, aren’t we? The question is, are you intentional about what they’re feeling? When they are around you, do they feel loved, believed in, cared for? Are they sure you believe them? Do they trust you? Do they like you? Do they feel accepted? Do you feel challenged? Do they feel passionate? There are a variety of things that people can feel. But unless you start being intentional about how you feel, you’re letting the world dictate the terms of your life instead of dictating your terms to the world.”

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