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Aww Shift

Oct 20, 2021

Welcome to the Aww Shift Podcast. In this episode, our guest is Mark Champagne. He is a Mental Fitness Practitioner who is obsessed with questions. He co-founded the journaling app (KYO) powered by prompts, which reached over 86 million people in under two years. Mark is also an author and host of the Behind the Human podcast, Top 50 in the Health category. Having studied people’s minds like Kobe Bryant, Maya Angelou, Naveen Jain, and more, he decided to write a book profiling exceptional thinkers’ questions and mental fitness practices. Today, he will share his insights about Questions and how having them daily can change our lives.


[8:16] Why should we listen to you?

I would probably flip it around and start asking you questions by nature. What lights me up are questions and being curious about people’s journeys and whatnot. I spent the last decade studying powerful questions and the mental fitness practices of people. I’ve done everything possible to figure out how to take that information and their story or their knowledge and flip it into questions so we can implement that in our life. That’s probably what I would talk about. But I’d first start asking questions about what lights you up or what makes you smile each day.


[9:36] How did you get into the work that you do?

I was in the corporate world doing my thing and was quite happy working in brand management and product management in the healthcare space. But what I was doing in that job was reading, learning, and getting into these mental fitness practices. I started picking up these practices, specifically around reflection and journaling.


When I left the corporate world, I was journaling every morning. But I was getting frustrated with the available digital tools, and I decided to leave that job and start the app. It did really in the sense of the number of people we reached at 6.9 million App Store impressions in the first couple of years. I became obsessed with questions when we reached that amount of people.


I just deleted this app, this business, and my identity for the last three years because it financially failed. It wasn’t until I asked what I wanted for my life that the motivation started to come back because that question led to the next. That’s why I’m passionate about questions. I think we’re all of us. No matter what we’re doing, we’re all one question away from a completely different life. What lights me up is trying to help people, not give them questions because we’re all unique and different, but help people with the mental fitness practices and framework to find that question that they need right now in their lives.


[14:59] How is it that asking questions led to where you are now?

I think the reason I like questions is that it offers us the pause that most of us don’t take because we’re on autopilot, and we’re just running our day every day. A good question allows us to pause.


Cal Fussman would never start a story or start writing a story with a blank mind. He would fire up his computer. If he didn’t have something, to begin with, he would write down the question and say, “What do I want to say?” And he’d go to bed. The first thing he would do when he would wake up is answer that question. It’s just another way to use questions. And to tap into that intuitive sense. We have the answers, and we need to pull it out of the fog that’s surrounding our minds with thoughts and relationships.

[19:08] Questions and Negotiations

Some of the questions I ask myself are what am I negotiating with myself constantly consistently. If that comes up, then you can use some practices or some mental fitness. One of the examples I use in that one is Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule. That’s a great way to get up out of bed. It’s just 54321 and out, just no negotiation. Just get out and start your day.


For me, questions provide that pause. And they’re just millions of different options or variations of these prompts. But what I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t matter who you are. We’re all asking questions. And they’re either good ones, or they’re not so good one. My whole thing is finding that question that is well-timed because it needs to be well-timed. And that resonates with someone and provides that pause for you to make a decision.

[21:31] Why did you write your book?

This is my life, and this is what I’ve been doing. For the last decade now, it showed up in some capacity in an app format that ended up reaching a lot of people. Now, the format has morphed, and I took those learnings from the app, and now it’s in book format. But the principles and the idea behind it is are very similar.


[22:24] The Socratic Method

I knew of Socrates. But that’s kind of as far as my knowledge. When I dug into it, I noticed that this whole method of asking questions, clarifying questions, and question after question, has been around for hundreds of years, if not more. So it’s proven to work. But I noticed that it’s always discussed in an academic setting.


The idea with what I wanted to do with the book was I know the power of questions. We can leverage many different mental fitness practices to deploy these questions into your routines and rituals. But how do we use the backbone of the Socratic method and update that and modernize it? So it’s easy to think about that. And that’s what the book is. It’s broken down into three parts instead of the six big Socratic method questions.


Part one is all about questions to help seek clarity. The second part dives into living intentionally. So questions to help you focus on and borrow some of the stuff from the book from Ryan Holiday and stoicism. And then the third step is unlocking exponential opportunity. Because now when you can see and you’re doing the things aligned to your work and your life and whatnot, then all of a sudden you start seeing an opportunity, and stuff starts to happen.

[26:58] What promise did God make to the world when He created you?

To show up daily with a smile. Be happy and try to leave that to other people on the other side, whether listening or in conversation. That’s what lights me up.


Key Quotes:

[13:26 – 13:31] “All of us, no matter what we’re doing, we’re all one question away from a completely different life.”

[17:22 – 17:30] “We have the answers. We need to pull it out of the fog that’s typically also surrounding our mind with thoughts and relationships.”

[20:00 – 20:06] “It’s harder to not do anything than it is to do it because then I got to live with the fact that I’m now out of line with who I chose and said I was going to be.”

[25:28 – 25:40] “See if you resonate with the person or the question and just follow your intuition because that’s the question that will resonate with you most in terms of what you need right now in your life.”

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