THE SJ CHILDS SHOW

Episode 248-From Rock Bottom to Personal Growth Pioneer: Kevin Palmieri's Journey to Co-founding Next Level University

January 09, 2024 Sara Gullihur-Bradford aka SJ Childs Season 10 Episode 248
Episode 248-From Rock Bottom to Personal Growth Pioneer: Kevin Palmieri's Journey to Co-founding Next Level University
THE SJ CHILDS SHOW
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THE SJ CHILDS SHOW
Episode 248-From Rock Bottom to Personal Growth Pioneer: Kevin Palmieri's Journey to Co-founding Next Level University
Jan 09, 2024 Season 10 Episode 248
Sara Gullihur-Bradford aka SJ Childs

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When Kevin Palmieri hit rock bottom, he didn't know that a New Jersey hotel room would be the catalyst for a dramatic career pivot and a quest for deeper fulfillment. Embark on a compelling journey with us as Kevin recounts his transformation from chasing financial success through job-hopping to co-founding Next Level University, where personal growth is paramount. During our raw conversation, we uncover the realities of mental health struggles, the resilience needed when following your passion, and how crucial the support of a like-minded community can be when your own belief starts to wane.

With a mission to nurture health, wealth, and love through personal development, Next Level University has become a beacon for those seeking to elevate their lives. In this episode, we peel back the layers of our platform's growth, from its inspired inception and alignment with our core values to the gratifying stories of listeners' evolutions, such as the transformation of one young lady from an audience member to a treasured team contributor. Join us for an insightful discussion that draws a line between self-belief and self-worth and learn how you, too, can gain the courage, clarity, and confidence needed to change your life. Moreover, learn where to connect with us and our community on social media to continue your own journey of growth.

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When Kevin Palmieri hit rock bottom, he didn't know that a New Jersey hotel room would be the catalyst for a dramatic career pivot and a quest for deeper fulfillment. Embark on a compelling journey with us as Kevin recounts his transformation from chasing financial success through job-hopping to co-founding Next Level University, where personal growth is paramount. During our raw conversation, we uncover the realities of mental health struggles, the resilience needed when following your passion, and how crucial the support of a like-minded community can be when your own belief starts to wane.

With a mission to nurture health, wealth, and love through personal development, Next Level University has become a beacon for those seeking to elevate their lives. In this episode, we peel back the layers of our platform's growth, from its inspired inception and alignment with our core values to the gratifying stories of listeners' evolutions, such as the transformation of one young lady from an audience member to a treasured team contributor. Join us for an insightful discussion that draws a line between self-belief and self-worth and learn how you, too, can gain the courage, clarity, and confidence needed to change your life. Moreover, learn where to connect with us and our community on social media to continue your own journey of growth.

Support the Show.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the SJ Childs Show, where a little bit of knowledge can turn fear into understanding. Enjoy the show. Hi, thank you so much for joining us today. I'm really excited to talk to Kevin Palmieri. I'm really excited to talk to Kevin Palmieri. I'm really excited to talk to Kevin Palmieri.

Speaker 1:

I'm really excited to talk to.

Speaker 2:

Kevin Palmieri.

Speaker 1:

It's a great question. I'm really excited to talk to Kevin Palmieri. I'm really excited to talk to Kevin Palmieri. I just job hopped. I did a lot of different jobs I worked at a gas station, personal trainer, I cleaned bathrooms and floors at a hospital. Truck driver, forklift operator, many, many different things. But the interesting thing that really happened that pivoted my life was I ended up getting this job in an industry called weatherization, and all that means is we go into state-owned buildings like schools and we make them more energy efficient. So that was pretty much my job. In a nutshell, the big upside was, since I was working on state contracts, I got paid anywhere from $60 to $120 an hour. Now, a 26-year-old man with that job, with no college degree boom, that is exactly what I wanted, right? That's exactly what I thought would be happiness and joy and success. So I ended up making $100,000 at 26 and I opened my final pay stub of the year and I looked at it, expecting it to fix my insecurities, expecting it to fix my lack of confidence, expecting it to make me more certain, but it didn't. Nothing really changed. Yes, money is important and money affords opportunities, but it didn't fix anything.

Speaker 1:

Internally In SARA, I realized that for most of my life, especially that previous year, I had lived unconsciously, just going through the motions, not really questioning anything. The opposite of unconscious is hyperconscious. So I started a podcast called the Hyperconscious Podcast and I fell in love with podcasting as I was falling out of love with my job. So I started calling out of work. I started leaving the job site early. I started showing up late. I was not the model employee that I once was, and it just kept getting worse and worse where my job required a lot of travel because we worked in different states. So the year I made the most money I was on the road for 10 months out of the 12 months, every single week, and after a while that just really starts to wear on you. So my mental health was taking a turn. I was more depressed, I was more anxious, I was more sad. I was just burning the candle at both ends and I didn't have a way out. I didn't know what to do. I had this perceived level of success that I was just so afraid to lose. The turning point for me was I woke up in a hotel room in New Jersey, which is six hours from where I lived. My alarm clock went off at 5.15, and I sat up. I slid to the edge of the bed. I was lacing up my work boots and that morning was different. It was like there was 10 televisions on in my head at the same time and every single one was on a different station.

Speaker 1:

And one is saying you're stuck here forever and you're never going to be able to replace this income. You got lucky. Don't make any bad decisions and leave. If you did have the courage to leave, what would your friends think? Your friends look up to you because you make a lot of money. What would your family think? Your family's very, very proud of you because you're successful and this was the loudest one for me. Do you really think you're going to start like run the podcast? I already had the podcast, but is that really the thing that's going to be your plan B? Are we gonna ride that off into the sunset?

Speaker 1:

And in that moment I felt that if I was to take my life, I would take my problems with me. Now here I am, six hours away from anybody who cares about me, in a dark, crusty hotel room, and I texted one of my friends, who's now the CEO and my business partner and I said Alan, I'm really struggling, man, I'm having these dark thoughts, I'm emotional, I don't know what to do. Like, what am I supposed to do here? And he said, kev, over the last couple of years, your awareness has raised a ton, but your environments have stayed the same. I think it's time for you to change your environment. So I ended up leaving my job three or four months later and then beginning the very, very challenging journey of being a broke podcaster entrepreneur, trying to figure all this out. But that was five or six years ago at this point, and here we are today, still afloat.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, oh, and it's wonderful when you connect with that passion, even when you, like you said, when you're starting out and you're just at the beginning kind of like I am you still it's hard to see, to let it the tunnel.

Speaker 2:

But then you get these little inklings of like you know things that come in, or you get a viral episode that shoots off, you know, and it's so exciting and you ride those waves right, but it gives you hope to keep going and to keep pushing. And for me it's about educating the families that are my listeners and I love that. The podcast community has been somewhere that not only I've been able to voice all the things I want to be able to say, but the connections that I've made around the world, connections and you don't even anticipate that that can fulfill that for you. Tell me how that because I think it's similar to a little bit of myself. Tell me what happened for you in that mentality and that mindset space that you know helped set in motion the this is gonna happen, this is gonna work out for me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's interesting. I owe a lot of that credit to my business partner. I had somebody who I could borrow his belief, and I think that's an important distinction for a lot of us, because I don't. I think one of the biggest issues, sarah, is most people just don't believe themselves. And think of it this way If you do not believe in your capability or your ability to accomplish something, you're not gonna take action. If you don't take action, you can't even surprise yourself. So then you get stuck in this conundrum of I don't believe I can, therefore I can't, and that becomes your life, and that's this fence that we put around our lives and that's where most of us stop. My business partner pushed me. I mean, he said Kev, we should start speaking. Kev, we should try to interview this person. Kev, we should go to this conference, kev, we can do this.

Speaker 1:

Where I did not naturally have that belief. I didn't think I was a good speaker. I didn't understand business, I didn't understand sales numbers, I didn't understand business, I didn't know how to do this. So for me, one of the important things was that I was surrounded by people who believed in me because they believed in themselves, and I think that's an important thing.

Speaker 1:

If I believe in myself, I can lend you some of my belief. But if I don't believe in myself, it's gonna be very hard for me to put wind into your sales and I might give you bad advice based on the fact that I don't believe I could. If I don't believe I can do it, it's gonna be very hard for me to help you believe you can. So for me, a lot of it was the people I was around and I'm very blessed. I'm very grateful that I have very positive people around me. A lot of that's by design. I have a very small circle, but that's always one of the things I say is you gotta check with who is surrounding me and are they helping me get to the future? Is that really why my relationships are set up the way they are?

Speaker 2:

No, I completely agree with that. I feel like we're twins, right, we're separated, Even though I'm probably 20 years older than you. That's just joke. Our souls are entangled somewhere.

Speaker 2:

No, I think that that is exactly, if it wasn't for the belief in that other people lent to me.

Speaker 2:

I love the way you said that I had no idea that podcasting would be a fantastic thing, that I would do and I would love, and I think that for me, I was writing this like, oh, I've been a stay-at-home mom and this is my life and this will be my child that lives here for his whole life. I have to set up all the life skills and everything for him. But then I got on and I was like, okay, I'm getting ready every day and I'm actually caring about myself again, and I found this whole new love for myself that reignited I would say reignited my sereness and helped me to then again share my belief that I was, had, you know, was then again building in myself with my friends and my other podcast cohorts and things like that. And it's so amazing to see that growth, to not only be able to say, oh yeah, great, mine said it works, but actually have that proof right, have that measurable outcomes in front of you to be able to share with people and you have to know where to look.

Speaker 1:

I think that's the. You use the word measurable. I love that because, again, from day to day, emotions win. All right, it's like, ah, you know what Doesn't really feel like it matters that much. I'm gonna skip this episode, but in the grand scheme of things, that episode matters so much. Or that coaching call, or that writing session, or that workout, or that conversation with your spouse. From day to day, progress is invisible, you can't see it, it almost doesn't exist. But from year to year, progress is impossible to miss, and that is such an important thing to understand. You have to measure whatever you're doing. Whatever you're doing, there has to be and again, this is coming from somebody who did none of the measuring in the beginning. If you're only relying on the emotion of the journey, you're probably you're either going to assume you're winning more than you are or you're losing more than you are, and in reality, neither of those are true. So at least understanding the truth will allow you to act in a more aligned direction manner, hopefully.

Speaker 2:

Isn't that the truth? I think, when you allow yourself to align with your passions with people, you should align with the timing, everything and, like you said, you don't kind of it's like a fine line where you don't sit and wait for things to happen and just you know you have to put action behind it, but put action behind something you're passionate about, something you love, not something where you're not feeling the emotions. Like you said, day to day, you put on your shoes and socks, you go out, you, you know, make the sale da, da, da and you, like you, lose part of your passion for what your desire, in what you're aligning for.

Speaker 2:

So I agree with that. Yeah, so now that you have started the podcast and you're so many years in, tell us when the decision to create the level up university, where did that come from and how did that all begin?

Speaker 1:

So we had again mentorship. We had a mentor, evan Carmichael. He's a very big YouTuber, he's the top of the top in our space, and we did a coaching call on Instagram with him and he said you guys are so good, but I can never remember your name. He said, like, what is this hyper-conscious podcast? You gotta change your name. Nobody knows what that means. And we were like initially, absolutely not, we're not changing it, you don't know anything. This is our baby.

Speaker 1:

But then we reflected on it and said, all right, well, again, having the humility to understand, this man probably knows more than we do at this time. And we said, all right, well, what are we saying? Like what's something we say often and we would say that that pizza is next level, like that pizza was next level, that movie was next level, that workout was next level. So we said, all right, what's next level? Let's hang on to that. What do we wanna become? We wanna become an online university where people can go, and there'll be a building for health, there'll be a building for wealth and there'll be a building for love and we'll have an online campus. We're gonna have a university, next level university, boom.

Speaker 1:

And then from there that became the new business and that became honestly, that became the new. Everything that really is like who we are as human beings is we're trying to level up or trying to get to the next level. So it was based on the advice of a mentor, which again is invaluable, and we ran it through the frame of is this a line for us? Is this the people that we wanna be? Those answers were both yes, and then we went all in, as we do. We tend to make decisions quickly and then just go all in. I know I heard that about you as well in one of the previous episodes.

Speaker 2:

Well, yeah, you could say that right. Yeah, I like to. Well, when I feel passionate about something, I feel like there's no stopping me, basically and I'm not trying to take anything from anyone or anything I'm trying to give all that I can, and I think that that is something that you are able to do in this medium and with these platforms is you're able to give and give and give. You're not ever taking anything, right, it's always a give process. I mean, the lucky thing is that you are taking maybe information and learning from it. I love that part. I love that I don't plan.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes your calendar stacks up and then I look on there and then all of the episodes for the week are about aligning your intentions, and it's just so random. How it's all fallen is a place, but it's all working out that way, and so it's just so fantastic that you can, like you said, feel it, you can see it, you can share the words with your friends, your listeners, your families. Tell us about some of the maybe engagement from your audience. Tell us about how that goes and how they have let you know that it's going great.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, one of the. It's interesting because I'm sure you get a bunch of messages and people share the show and all that and I love that. I mean again in the beginning, for me that's when I got hooked.

Speaker 1:

I got hooked in the beginning. It was like, wow, people actually care about what I say. That's amazing. The thing that has really moved me is seeing people take where they used to be in life and then change just not all of their circumstances, but they change so much. We had a young lady who I did a free call with her two years ago. I think I do a lot of free calls with our audience. I don't I'm not trying to sell them anything. It's like tell me about you, what are you going through, how can I add value to you, and maybe something you say will help me come up with a topic for the podcast. Awesome, that's a win-win. So I did a call with her. Then we it's like this kind of this weird thing that happens that when you meet us behind the scenes, some people run away and they kind of like avoid us for a long period of time. It's this cycle we've seen. I'm not sure why yet, but it's that way.

Speaker 2:

We're meeting too much later. I'm just joking.

Speaker 1:

So this person kind of ran away and then we reconnected and this person signed up for group coaching. Between the time that I initially talked with her and when she signed up with group coaching, she got out of a toxic relationship. She moved across the country and she was still listening to our episodes I just didn't know. She signed up for group coaching. Now she's on our team. Now she works with us every day and she's that's four or five of our team members were once clients of ours.

Speaker 1:

That for me, it's like I love the messages that you know, this podcast is great and I'm listening and I love the reviews, but I love getting to meet somebody at the very beginning of their journey and then getting to see them a year, two years, three years down the line, because that really is the proof of it's not just what I'm saying, it's not just the episodes, it's the fact that you're doing something after you hear them. That's what matters, that the action component is so important. So for me it's that it's seeing where somebody started and then seeing where they are today. Again, is it all us? Absolutely not. Do I like to think we're playing some part in that? Yeah, because the community and the consistency and the commitment, but that really, really ignites it within me for sure.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I love that. So if we, you know, if my listeners want to go and find you, tell us what an episode is like on an everyday basis.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I'm always thinking to myself. So our demographic is primarily and this is a surprise to many it's primarily women who want more courage, clarity and confidence out of their lives, and they want more fulfillment and success out of their relationships. Never expected that. As a tattooed bodybuilder, I expected men to listen, but I'm very grateful we attracted those humans because I've learned so much.

Speaker 1:

So, just as an example, we did an episode recently where we talked about the difference between self-belief and self-worth. You might believe you are capable of accomplishing all of your goals, but you might not be able to accurately value yourself as a human being. So maybe you're capable of building a mansion, but you're not capable of allowing the or stopping the negative people from entering and spilling beer on your carpet and knocking down your walls and stealing your furniture. There's a big difference between belief your capability to do something and then self-worth your understanding and accuracy of your value as a human being. So we tend to get pretty deep. It's very awareness building. That's always our goal and we usually do. It might be an episode about health, it might be an episode about wealth, it might be an episode about love, but it's with the awareness that you're gonna learn, and then you're gonna be able to take new action based on tactics that we share.

Speaker 2:

I love that. It's something I'm very passionate about Each day on my just my own personal Facebook page. I started like I don't know a couple of years ago, just doing a quote every day and I call it today's mission, and people are like fanatic about it, right.

Speaker 2:

It's just like oh my gosh, this means so much to me and it means so much to me and sometimes I don't even like I don't have the days planned out. I'm not a planner, I'm a fly by my it's made of my pants kind of person, and so I bring these, the quotes up and I'm like, wow, this feels so great today. I'm gonna share this. I hope that it resonates with whoever else I can share it with. So I guess, like maybe I turn it into a little, a little reel instead.

Speaker 2:

Of a post right and start up leveling up my game a little bit.

Speaker 1:

Well, it's clearly working if people I mean, you're clearly the type of human that is about value. Yeah, Adding value. Adding value never goes out of style. It never does, and it's contextual it depends on who you're delivering it to. So it's clear that you're adding value and it's clear that the community loves it, which is a great start.

Speaker 2:

Of course, I love it absolutely Well and I hope to you know at some point be as further along as you are, where I'm just starting season six and I'm at 160 episodes.

Speaker 1:

Congrats, thank you.

Speaker 2:

I'm so proud of that. And it was it just. It started with an idea out of, you know, my living room, so that's what makes me laugh sometimes. So I'm like how did this even happen? How have I been able to, you know, reach so many communities in my own state or communities all around the world and meet some amazing, amazing people? Tell us, do you do interview styles at all, either, or?

Speaker 1:

We did. We did for a long time, so probably the first 800 episodes. We did interviews and then we said, honestly, we're at the stage now where there's two of us, we both have a bunch of coaching clients. We have a 19 person team now. So it's not just the podcast, there's a lot that goes on behind it.

Speaker 1:

So it was very hard for us to book guests. And here's the truth. It got to the point where we realized that there's a lot of messaging out there that's not aligned for us and I'll keep it anonymous. But we had somebody book. This person's very big on social media. They have 600,000, 700,000 followers.

Speaker 1:

And I remember going through and doing research and I said, honestly, I can't get with this, like I can't promote this to our community. I don't believe it's all going to work out. I don't believe that you can work an hour a day and be successful. I think for most people that's disempowering. We made the decision look, we're not going to have guests. In very rare situations we might. But I've seen behind the scenes of many people and I've been disappointed oftentimes about the difference between the front facing and behind the scenes. Now, all of the episodes you've seen that we've aired are aligned, but we've had a lot of shows that haven't seen the light of day, and there's reasons for that so yeah, we kind of moved away from that and said look, we're going to be the people that talk to the community.

Speaker 1:

Is that the best play in the short run? Maybe not, but I do believe in the long run that's what we should be doing.

Speaker 2:

I love that and you just stick with your decisions because, as you have already done, you will change and expand and grow and morph into something new and you can never. You know you really have to celebrate that new place that you're at. You really can't. I wrote something the other day that was like, or not wrote something, but read something that said you can't come from the place you were before, like. You have to bring this new person with you and these new ideas and you know, let go of what isn't working for you. And you know, nice, that it's right. At the beginning of a new year we're going into, what are some goals that you have going forward that are going to be what you know you choose for 2023?

Speaker 1:

My goal and again I will preface this with I do not recommend this for anybody else, because this is based on my goals and my long term goals. I want to do 1000 episodes in 2023. So we're going to do 365. I have another show about podcasting, so that'll be another 52. And then I'm thinking, whatever, I'll fill in the difference there with other, with other podcasts. This year I think I did 750.

Speaker 2:

So I can stretch.

Speaker 1:

I'm close, right, I can stretch. So that's big. We want to do 500,000 downloads next year and we want to do a million dollars in revenue. Those are really our big, our big three or four goals that we have. But for us it's like I'm going to show up seven days a week in front of the microphone and I'm going to try to get a little bit better every time. I'm going to try to be a better husband to my wife and I'm going to try to take care of my body mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually a little bit better than I did last year. Those are like the micro goals.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely Everybody should be the same. I agree, or that at least you know. For the ending part. It is so important that you have those things to look forward to. I think that I'm the same. I hope that you know. My show grows, the amount of community reach I have out there can grow and some big changes in the disability community, where I do a lot of my work, can happen. So hopefully that will be the case. Where can people go to find you if they want to find your show and the website and all of the good places?

Speaker 1:

I always just say go listen to the podcast. You're either going to say yes, these are my people, or no. Maybe this isn't for me. It's just the easiest for you to start there. So just search next level university. We're on all the podcast platforms as well as YouTube. And then you can just search Kevin Paul Mary on Facebook and LinkedIn, and then my handle on Instagram is at never quit kid.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's not that perfect. Well, we'll be sure to go and follow you. Thank you so much for your time today. I look forward to following and seeing this, you know, next year's goals come to fruition and yeah, and hopefully I can catch back up with you and we can measure that success and see how it went.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. I appreciate you having me. It was wonderful You're, you're the best and I'm grateful.

Speaker 2:

Likewise. Thank you so much and we'll be in touch.

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