Ep454: James Neilson-Watt – Best Lessons Come From Others People’s Mistakes

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Quick take

BIO: James Neilson-Watt is the CEO of Patients & Profit, which teaches health professionals how to run successful businesses to create more impact.

STORY: James suffered from chronic panic and anxiety attacks, and for years he allowed this to hold his life back. Eventually, he decided to face his fears head-on and has been on a journey of healing since.

LEARNING: Learn from people’s mistakes. Find good mentors to guide you.


“Things that you have no control over will always happen. But suffering is optional.”

James Neilson-Watt


Guest profile

James Neilson-Watt is the CEO of Patients & Profit, which teaches health professionals how to run successful businesses, so they create more impact.

James is also the author of Healthcare Business Secrets-A step by step guide to growing a wildly successful healthcare business.” He is a health Professional himself, having practiced in and run his own healthcare business for a number of years before transitioning into the coaching space.

James has been featured in Yahoo Finance, LA Weekly, NY Weekly, and other publications and has worked with hundreds of healthcare business owners in over 15 countries, helping them increase their revenue by over $20,000,000 per year collectively and helping 10’s of thousands of patients in the process.

Worst investment ever

James suffered from chronic panic and anxiety attacks for over 20 years. He would experience crippling terror that held him back from living life to the fullest.

It wasn’t until James let go and decided to face his fears that he could wade his way out of it. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but he did it.

Lessons learned

  • The only way to get from where you are to where you want to be is to find people who have done it and learn from their mistakes.
  • Find good mentors that can guide you and learn from them.

Actionable advice

If you’re feeling depressed, take time to be curious and think what a non-depressed version of you would want to be. What decisions would you make? What beliefs would you hold? Think more about that to bring positivity to your life.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

James’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to triple our client volume in our business

Parting words


“You have more control than you think you do. We all can achieve more, but it’s our choice as to whether we will. So go and be resourceful.”

James Neilson-Watt


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning in our community we know that to win in investing you must take risk but to win big you've got to reduce it join our community go to my worst investment ever.com and receive the risk reduction checklist I created from the lessons I've learned from all my guests and get my weekly email to help you increase your investment return. Also in the community you can get a super special podcast listener discount on my six week by wishing masterclass boot camp. This boot camp is for those who want to learn exactly how to value companies like a pro and advance their career in finance, just go to my worst investment ever.com to join the community for free. Fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guest James Nielsen watt dame's Are you ready to rock?

James Neilson-Watt 00:58
Yes, I am excited.

Andrew Stotz 01:00
I am excited to have you on and I know just heard a little bit about your story. And I'm excited to hear that. Now. Let me introduce you to the audience. James Nielsen was the CEO of patients and profits, which teaches health professionals how to run successful businesses so they create more impact. James is also the author of healthcare business secrets a step by step guide to growing a wildly successful healthcare business. He is a healthcare professional himself having practicing and run his own healthcare business for a number of years before transitioning into the coaching space. James has been featured in Yahoo Finance, LA Weekly, New York weekly, and other publications. And his work with hundreds of healthcare owned business owners in over 15 countries, helping them increase their revenue by over $20 million per year collectively and helping 10s of 1000s of patients in the process. James, take a minute and fill in for the tidbits about your life.

James Neilson-Watt 02:02
Well, I'm excited to be here. And I was a little nervous it was we're looking at our worst investments. And we talked about this pre show and, and I said you know there's a lot of little dumb things I've bought here and there. And I think what's my worst investment and I think, for me, and my story to give you some context, this is going to be a lot about hindsight and seeing things as they are now. And as they could have been had I not you know, invested time and energy into things that I shouldn't have. And so I grew up my father left when I was eight, I grew up with my mother and younger brother and we didn't have much money, home life wasn't the best. And all of that culminated me having a strong history of chronic anxiety and concentration issues which affected me at school and I was always the bad student who got good grades but didn't put in enough effort and there was there was a lot of self esteem related things that came from all of that and the anxiety for me was to a point where you know, I couldn't walk down the street at night without having panic attacks or someone's going to attack me if I was at home I would be sitting there alone with a knife next to me you know thinking someone's going to break in I would sleep at night and put plastic bags by the door so that theoretically if someone comes in here in less than an hour and I'll be awakened and I remember you know I don't know if you've ever experienced terror like not fear but just sheer terror and I would feel that on basically a daily basis about all kinds of stuff and so the times are you know, I remember sitting in bed at night listening, looking and staring hearing noises in my brain just telling me that someone's climbing my walls together and all this is happening that's happening and this went on for as long as I could have remembered up until maybe what I'm 30 now so maybe 2425 even and it affected everything but I didn't know how much it affected you know i mean until it changed which we'll get into in a bit and suddenly I went Hey, I've invested so much energy and time and emotion into managing you know the story these patterns these beliefs and feelings and who could I have been had I not had that because I do have become now having overcome it and what I've achieved in such a short period of time relatively that I look at anything now what if I didn't have them for the previous 20 something years? like holy crap, right? And so for me it was on the outside a lot of us You don't know what's going on. You see someone you got they've put together that right? I was very good looking perfect to get which is why whenever I told anybody they just didn't believe me. And I even tell it now people that know me thing, are you not really James and you know, wouldn't you have told me this or blah blah blah it's like no because you don't you don't Get it, if they've been through it and get help the facade forms, and it's an can even deal with the situation as it comes. And you're, you're just trying to keep your shit together. So when people are asking you stuff, you're not prepared to then go and tell them because that then opens it up and makes it real. And that's the irony is that by not facing the realness of it, I didn't know that I had anxiety until I was in a psychology class at university. And I went, they were teaching us the different things and they said, generalized anxiety. And it was like anxious about kind of everything all the time. And I went, that's, I think I've got that. I think it's pretty bad. And so I went to the front, and I told them, I said, Yep, you do. Right. And it suddenly just made a hole of things sink in, I was like, oh, I've got that. But the problem of getting labeled as you've now categorized it, I know what it is. And it's like, okay, that's what I am, I probably have ADHD, based on, like, I never got tested, right? My mother didn't want me to, because I think she thought that then, you know, she'd be labeled a certain way, and then I'd be given certain things or whatever. But so there's, there's that, and then there's anxiety stuff, and, you know, panic attacks stuff, and, and all this and you get labeled, you get put in a box, and it's like, that's who I am. So, you know, I don't know, if you want to jump into

Andrew Stotz 06:22
what I think I think you're doing a great job. So you're, you're going through it, so just continue on and tell us the whole story. And we want to learn.

James Neilson-Watt 06:31
So so I was, you know, I'm categorized, I'm understanding, you know what it is, but then you go through this period of like, Okay, well, you know, I just, I have anxiety. And there's this, there's this almost sick, empowering this. Like, like a, I don't know, if it was codependency it's like, it's like an abusive relationship with yourself, and your anxiousness that it is your identity. But the fact that you cling to it allows you to never achieve more. So it's like, if I'm, if I'm out in the ocean, claiming to know a piece of driftwood, I'm not drowning. But to get to the beach, I have to let go of it. And I'll justify all day and night as the why shouldn't it go that piece of wood, and sure, there's maybe risk, but imagine in this case, my brain tells me that it's a deep ocean is in there's sharks everywhere, and they're gonna eat me if I let go, that would, in reality, it's actually like a one meter deep area and I can touch the bottom. And so it's not until you actually let go, and, and dig into it and face it and for me, except that everything's my fault. And once I speak that mistake of the once you do that, you let go and you touch the bottom you go, Oh, shit, actually, I just got to wade my way out. I'm going to get a bit tired, but then I'll be on the beach. It'll be great. And so, you know, lessons learned and, and how how I got through it was to accept that I'm at fault. Like if I'm, if I'm suffering, that's my choice. Things happen. Should happens. I get hit by a bus. I can't use my legs anymore. Right? That sucks. I can't control that. But suffering is optional. There's an amazing guy. I can't say his last name. Nick sent or something sent a Nazi or something. He's a Tony Robbins speaker. He's got no legs. He's got one arm and a finger. And go seen him. Yeah, this dude's incredible. Right? And he comes out on stage and say, you know, what excuses Do you have and it's just call it standing sitting whatever. And it's like he's he's not suffering. And so I started get exposed to some stuff and thinking about the world a bit different instead of the challenge and I got exposed some interesting practitioners and some alternative therapies that helped me become more present in my body. One of them is his network smile analysis from Donnie Epstein. And I went inside of being a practitioner, and fast forward a bit. what it did for me is it put me back in my body so anxiety is your body feels some stuff, and then your brain justifies it. And it justifies it from the context of your subconscious. So if for example, I was abused by somebody wearing a blue shirt, and I'm feeling anxious and I look around and then there's a person a man standing there in a blue shirt, my brains then going to say I'm going to get attacked that's why he's looking at and funding something's going to happen. If I'm feeling anxious, and I go Why am I anxious I must have left the stove on my house is gonna burn down my kids are gonna die like I'm a loser, man. Like it's this is bullshit story that your brains giving you to justify this feeling you're having and so I started coaching people with anxiety, and I came to three things for me. You've got what your body tells you. You've got what your brain tells you. And then what you've got what your mind tells you, your mind your consciousness. It's a small part of it, most of it is our unconscious and our and our subconscious our subconscious is, you know, if I said to you don't think about an elephant, you picture an elephant because your brain doesn't care to see his elephant pictures and anxiety is not understanding and controlling those things. And saying, you know what, I'm not going to put up with this anymore. I'm going to choose not to face the story, not to face the feeling not to make it real not to validate it. I don't care how out of control you feel with it, I know the feeling is real. 100 is 100%, real to us, paranoia, the fear, the panic, but it's facing it anyway, in saying you're not real, I'm not going to let you control me. And in doing that, for me, is what changed it. And suddenly, I started to get clarity over my feeling, I understood, my heart rate was changing, you know what, I'm not going to get anxious, then it was understanding my mind and my brain and my conditioning. And then I'm starting to get confidence that actually I can deal with some of the stuff and I'm going to breathe into it, I'm going to face it anyway, I'm going to walk down that street, you know what, I don't give an F, who is there, no one's there, my brain is telling me that these people are going to jump out and get me, you know, and after that, I'm getting confidence. And through doing that enough, I start to recondition my mind enough to gain control. And it's just a continual, just like lifting weights, you don't lift weights once and get big arms, you know, or big chest, you go consistently and consistently, and then now is just the default. I am beyond not anxious. I am even more positive than that, in terms of, you know, any negative thoughts in my mind Don't even precipitate because I've changed how I allow my brain to have control of my physiology. So

Andrew Stotz 11:40
So how would you describe the lessons that you learned from this?

James Neilson-Watt 11:44
I think the lessons that I learned and this is all hindsight, right? This is not knowing it in the moment, okay, this is now doing it. And coaching people, etc, is realizing that the only way to get from where you are to where you want to be is to find people who have done it. And then ask them, and then get their mistakes and learn from them. Anybody can learn from their own mistakes, I touched the stove, it's hot. I don't, I'm not gonna touch a stove. Again. A smart person, a truly successful person says, Hey, is the stove hot? Yes, it is. And then doesn't touch it. So you get burned. You know, and so finding good mentors that can guide you, and looking listening and, and really learning from them. I think that was the biggest thing for me. I pushed against that, because I wanted to believe that there was nothing that could be done because it enabled my story which justified my feelings. And there was fear of change. The irony was stuff as I think most of us struggle the most with fear of success. Like, what if I am at fault for my anxiety, and I then decide to do things differently. And I decide to not have it by taking particular actions. Like it's not like, I'm going to be not anxious, like, I'm just going to decide it's more like I'm deciding to, to make a choice to do stuff that will eliminate it, if I'm overweight or from unfit deciding to just the exercise will then change it right? So I make the decision I change. What does that say about me the previous 20 years having not made that decision. That's scary. I have to accept old James wanted this because new James has now decided differently. And then my friends because generally speaking, you surround yourself with people that enable you, because that makes you feel better, you're not gonna hang out with a bunch of billionaires, if you're broke, because you're gonna feel bad. And, you know, you're gonna go hang out with a bunch of work and feel good. So it's, I'm gonna lose friends. And you don't, but you think you might. And that is enough for you to stop people doing stuff. That's the biggest lesson for me how much time I wasted energy. on not just change, this is

Andrew Stotz 13:52
such a, it's an interesting story, because I know some of the listeners have children, or they may themselves be caught up in this cycle of anxiety cycle of let's say, let's just say cycle of negative behavior. In my case, when I was young, it was alcohol and drugs. And my parents wanted me to break that cycle. But you know, I was just caught up in it. You know, and I couldn't visualize any other way at the time, you know, except that way. So I like, you know, this topic is interesting, and I've written down a lot of stuff. And what I'm imagining, you know, I used to have a cat, she passed away after 16 years, but when she was young, there was somebody that kind of, I would say, harassed her, maybe not abused her, but harassed her, so that she was always having to kind of defend herself from being poked. And then the rest of her life, when anybody would get close to her, she would have a reaction to want to get away from them. And she never had any ability to overcome that and So she spent her whole life in fear. Even though the person that harassed her was gone, and other people weren't going to harass. But humans, we have the choice. So then I was just trying to think about your story and trying to put it in context. Because the reality is, is that usually, we have something that kicks off our story. It could be, you know, abandonment, it could be abuse, it could be something that triggers us to some behavior. But then we repeat that behavior. And I, I'm just thinking, I'm kind of a fun example would be, imagine someone, you know, broken your house and your kid, you're home alone, your parents are hot, you know, whatever things, nobody around, and then they, they wrap you up in rope, they don't wrap you tight, they don't tie some massive knot. But they just go 100 times around you until you got this kind of loose rope around you. And they sit you down in a chair and wrap you in their chair. And then they leave. So how long are you going to sit there? You know, and that's part of what I'm just thinking about is it for some people, they will literally sit there and die there. Because they just can't unwrap those robes. Whereas another person may just say, I'm getting out of this right now. And they just shimmy their way out of it. And so were the ropes your fault? No, no, somebody brought that to you just like the cat, you know, in my life. Somebody brought that to you. But now the question is, and as you said, suffering is optional. So when I you know, I wrote down a lot of things about what you said, but I, I'm not going to talk much about him. Because I just feel like the biggest value of your story is, how do we help that person break free, sooner, rather than later? Eventually, they're going to break free. But you know why? Why sit there for six days, and starve yourself when you could actually be out on day one. So what I want to ask you is based upon what you've learned from this story, and what you continue to learn, what one action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate?

James Neilson-Watt 17:20
I want to I want to really quickly add to what you said, Yeah, I think that we all hear about the one thing, and we always try and find the one thing I think what's scarier is that most of us have been conditioned by small things over time, you can mess a kid up by just not quite being there for them exactly how they need when they need it. And it's not because of any one big thing happened. But what happens is society says, Well, you didn't get raped, you didn't get abused. So therefore, what your feelings are invalid compared to this person or me. They're not, they're not respecting the feeling as it exists. And that, you know, death by 1000. Cuts is real. And I think that all of us until we accept that we don't really see it for what it is, which is an overtime, it's this depression over time, or beating down these things, or spirals, depression is just you're unhappy, stops trying to get happy. At some point, you just decided to stop trying. And then I know people are gonna hit us there. I try. It's like, Yeah, but yeah, I don't to get too into this. But like, there's trying, and then there's doing. And I think the one thing for me is to the way that I look at everything is if it was hypothetically, you know, not might not feel like a choice. But if it was, hypothetically a choice. What would James, a non depressed version of me? What would he think and believe and do in his life, compared to what I'm currently doing? Just being curious, throwing out hypotheticals. And the reason I say it like that is we will have conditioning. And we get triggered. Triggers are our choice. You could say, James, you've got, you know, lots of here, that's horrible. I could say, you know, Andrew, you don't have lots of here. And either way, I can be triggered, depending on what society says is okay, which is all a construct. And so ultimately, my reaction to it as a choice, right? So when I'm looking at that, it's like, what if James was not depressed? What would he think feel believe x do? That's what Tony Robbins told me? It's like, well, he would probably look at things differently. He probably asked different questions. He probably read different information, he would probably make different actions. You know, James would probably be going out and hanging out with his friends. If he doesn't have any who'd probably be meeting people and talking to them. He probably consider that people are, you know, positive and can bring positivity to his life. He will probably wouldn't view people as being negative and horrible term. Whenever he felt, you know, good, he would amplify it and whenever he felt bad, he probably try and go and do some stuff to make them feel good. You probably wouldn't think about the stuff that he can that he can't control, like the weather, the president etc. You probably think about the stuff you can control. He probably not watched the news. Probably filter the information into his head a lot more. And he probably wouldn't think of himself as a victim, probably think of himself as a creator of his future. And is that anyone? And I think if we all just play that mental game a little bit, and what if, and just be curious to, you know, you can do it in anything, I'm broke my money.

Andrew Stotz 20:20
What's good about this age whenever

James Neilson-Watt 20:21
you know,

Andrew Stotz 20:22
you're doing it kind of an alternate version of yourself. Because if you look outside and say, Well, what would someone so do? Well, that just doesn't relate, you know, but what would a different version of you do? I like that I like to

James Neilson-Watt 20:37
the story I'd love to tell with this. Real quick is if you've got kids, and they're in a burning building, and they're going to die. And there's alligators in a river and there's, you know, a barbed wire fence. So you're going to say it's too hard. I tried to save my kids. No, you jumped that fence, you'd kick those alligators in the face and your climate building and you'd burn to death, trying to save and there was a there was I read a story, I don't know how relevant it is. Now I think it might have been recently I can't remember, a woman had like six kids. And she was home alone within a building was on fire. And she got 93% burns all over her body. And she I think she saved all of your kids or something like that. Or maybe only one of them died or whatever. And she burned us up half to death and save her kids. Why? Because she had a very clear outcome what she wanted and she had very strong reasons why and if you are anxious or depressed or unhappy or unsuccessful, chances are you don't have a clear what and you definitely don't have a clear why to take enough action because Am I going to try and kick the fence once and say a fence and fall down sorry, babies, you're going to burn to the fire, I'm going to keep kicking until my leg breaks to try and do everything possible to get that door down that fence down those alligators other way that's my point you correctly your strategy and you try again because I must otherwise my babies die. And I looked at my life like that now, my anxiety, everything. Because that's the one thing I learned.

Andrew Stotz 21:57
Yeah, and I think about it I am in a 12 step program to overcome my substance abuse from a young age but there's a great line in there that says if we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we'll be amazed before we're halfway through and and i painstaking is kind of an old word, not a common word that we use. And somebody said to me taking pain. And then it really made me think like what does that means if we're painstaking about this phase of our development? Are we willing to face the pain? Are we willing to go through and if we can, and if we do, we'll be amazed. There's a whole world out there. There's a whole world out there. Alright, last question, what's your number one goal for the next 12 months

James Neilson-Watt 22:46
I have a successful business and I'm driven by the impact that it makes. And so it's become more and more apparent that the more I focus on the value creation and the people that I can help the more abundance comes that allows me to reinvest into my family and into what I'm doing to create more and so it's become my obsession to just grow the crap out of what I'm doing because of the impact that has an alpha fill day and so our mission is to triple our client volume in our business because I help people who help other people and when they're all help their families get help so I feel like I'm such a part of so much change that just gets me going every day so it's like a very boring one but that's my thing because I see the abundance coming to me I see the abundance coming to my clients and I know what

Andrew Stotz 23:37
their patients kids and their families patients exactly, then it's a ripple effect. And what's the best way for people that like what you do and like what you say to get in touch with you

James Neilson-Watt 23:49
if you just look at my name James Nielsen what it's not gonna matter how you spell it as long as you put it in that order with Google that will find me You can check out my website and check out my podcast James Nelson watch show we interview interesting and inspiring people to understand their success and what it takes to win in all aspects of life and and it's really when I bring all of my my thoughts feelings and stuff into so

Andrew Stotz 24:10
definitely fantastic, fantastic and we'll have all that in the show notes ladies and gentlemen. And that ad is a great story and it's another story of loss to keep all of us winning. My number one goal for the next 12 months is to help you my listener reduce risk and re increase return in your life. To achieve this I've created the community at my worst investment ever.com So come and join and if you're interested in learning about valuation get the special discount on the six week valuation masterclass boot camp will start in just two weeks. And as we conclude, James, I want to thank you again for coming on the show. And on behalf of a Stotz Academy. I hereby award you alumni status for Turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

James Neilson-Watt 25:06
You know, go out there and realize that you have more control than you think you do and, and we all we all can achieve more but it's our choice as to whether we will so go and be resourceful as Tony Robbins says. Because it doesn't matter what you have or don't have. It's the resourcefulness that will get you what you want.

Andrew Stotz 25:22
Beautiful. And that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our wealth and our health. Fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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