This week we have Dr. Jason Selk as a guest on the podcast! While serving as the Director of Mental Training for the St Louis Cardinals, Dr. Jason Selk helped the team win their first World Series in over 20 years, and in 2011 he assisted the Cardinals in the historic feat of winning their second World Championship in a six-year period. In addition to working with world-class athletes, Dr. Selk helps business leaders, executives, and top sales people develop mental toughness, increase confidence and focus, and substantially grow the bottom line. More importantly, he helps his clients achieve life balance and health, because people who are happier are the ones who are most successful.
A licensed mental health professional, Dr. Selk earned his Doctorate in counseling and sport psychology at the University of Missouri. His client list includes companies such as Morgan Stanley, Ernst & Young, Merrill Lynch, Edward Jones, Bacardi, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. A regular contributor to Forbes and Inc., he has been featured in such publications as Success, Men’s Health, Shape, Self, and USA Today, and on television and radio shows on CNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, and ESPN.
His latest book Relentless Solution Focus will be published in January 2021. Selk’s earlier book, Executive Toughness, was ranked one of the best career development books ever published by Book Authority. His first book, 10-Minute Toughness, is on pace to be one of the best-selling sports psychology books of all time, while Organize Tomorrow Today was ranked as a top best-selling business book of 2016 by CEO Read. And in 2018, his book Lead Any Team to Win was recognized by Bloomberg as one of the top ten best leadership books of the year.
2:10 the victim mentality
6:10 middle class mindset
9:38 identity statement
17:00 zeroing in on imperfections
21:10 do you know where you’re trying to go
25:43 too focused on the result
Watch the recording here.
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Run your law firm the right way.
This is The Maximum Lawyer Podcast.
Your hosts, Jim Hacking and Tyson Mutrux.
Let’s partner up and maximize your firm.
Welcome to the show.
Tyson: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Tyson Mutrux. Jim is on assignment. Today, we’ve got one of my favorite guests we’ve ever had, a person that has had a huge impact on my life more than he probably ever knows.
Jason, I talk about you all the time. I mention your principles all the time. I give you credit all the time. Before we have our little chat, I’m going to do a bio for you, really quick.
Today, we have Dr. Jason Selk. While serving as the director of mental training for the St. Louis Cardinals, Dr. Jason Selk helped the team win their first World Series in over 20 years. And, in 2011, he assisted the Cardinals in the historic feat of winning their second World Championship in a six-year period. In addition to working with world class athletes, Dr. Selk helps business leaders, executives, and top salespeople develop mental toughness, increase confidence and focus, and substantially grow the bottom line. More importantly, he helps his clients achieve life balance and health, because people who are happier are the ones who are most successful.
Dr. Selk, I’ll call you Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason: Thanks, Tyson. Good to be with you again.
Tyson: Good to be with you as well. We were talking a little bit before the show, just the ideas– the angle that we have with the show today is, you know, 2020 kind of sucked, right? It was a tough year for a lot of people. And I really want people focusing on the right things and moving forward. And with the politics that are going on these days, with the pandemic, I know people have struggled with that. So, with that in mind, I guess, what are your thoughts on 2020? Whenever you’re talking with your people, whenever you’re teaching your classes, and your coaching, and all that, I mean, were they struggling with it as well? What are your thoughts?
Jason: Yeah. So, I think, the main theme, for me, for 2020, both personally as well as professionally, is to really– I think, this year, we had to be more so than other years, on the lookout for the victim mentality. You know, we’ve talked about this before that it’s totally normal to be mentally weak. It’s totally normal to become a victim, you know.
Again, this year, I think there were more invitations sent out to become a victim than years past. So, it’s important, I think, for people to realize a couple of things. One, it’s totally normal, okay. But, it’s also a pure sign of mental weakness. So, again, becoming the victim, allowing yourself to focus on the problem.
And let’s talk about the biological reason it’s so normal, something called PCT (problem-centric thinking). It’s completely normal for us to focus on the problems or the negative. And it boils down to, you know, hundreds of years ago, it was in our best interest for survival. If our minds were constantly looking for, you know, the lion hiding in the brush, it kept us alive. Well, even though 2020’s been very difficult and we’re dealing with this pandemic, it’s still, without a doubt, the safest time for human beings to be alive.
So, this PCT. Again, the problem-centric wiring of our brain, although it used to keep us alive. Now, it really hampers our performance. And so, the first thing people need to realize is it’s totally normal to be mentally weak. Second thing, you’ve got to understand, everyone can learn. We can actually re-wire our brains to be mentally tough. And the key is, and that’s the latest book that I just came out with, Relentless Solution Focus. That’s what it’s all about is understanding, number one, it’s totally abnormal to be mentally tough, totally normal to be mentally weak. Number two, everyone can become mentally tough. We can learn to control our thoughts. And number three, it takes less than three minutes a day, three days a week to do so.
So, the big theme for 2020, for me, this year was, you must learn to fight that victim mentality. And here’s really kind of the simple way to do it. You go from victim to that RSF mindset, that relentless solution focus mindset, by picking one thing and getting all over that one thing.
So, for example, maybe I’m an attorney and, for whatever reason, maybe 2020’s made business slow up a bit. I can focus on the pandemic, the social injustice, you know, my own personal issues, or I could say, “Okay, in this situation, I might have to hustle a little bit more to get the clients that used to come to me so easily.” So instead of, you know, feeling like I’m a victim to this 2020, what I’m going to do is I’m going to make three additional, proactive business finding sales calls a day.
And here’s the great thing about your mind. If you get in the office, and you’ve got that one thing to attack, it allows you to stay away from the victim because remember your mind can only fully focus on one thing. So, Tyson, if you’re showing up and you’re focused on being on the attack, you know, being relentless about the solution, you can’t, in those same moments, be feeling sorry for yourself or playing the victim. So, again, 2020, go from victim to attack by picking one thing, getting all over that one thing each day.
Tyson: All right.
So, I’ll be honest with you, whenever I flew out to Vegas, and I spent a day with you, and you started talking about this stuff, I’m being like, “I don’t know about this. I don’t know if you can re-wire your brain. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.” But then, you walked us through the principles that you teach and, you know, you develop your identity statement, you figure out your vision. I will tell you, over time, my confidence level shot through the roof. I have this thing that my buddy, Christopher Nicolaysen, calls like this middle-class mindset sometimes, and I sort of revert back to it, and I feel like there’s like the ceiling sometimes. But whenever, I’ll call it course or seminar, out in Vegas. And then, we did our coaching with you, I broke through that. And it was really, really important to me. And it had a huge impact in my life. But with that, though, like I sometimes will revert back, you know, and I had to remind myself.
So, I guess, will you– I want you to talk about the importance of confidence, identity statements. And I want to talk about vision a little bit. Let’s not get into vision yet, but can you talk a little bit about importance of confidence?
Jason: Yeah. So, self-confidence, we know is the number one variable for all human performance. And, just like you said, I think most people still feel the way you felt a number of years ago that, “Yeah, if your brain’s wired a certain way, there’s not much you can do about it.” You know, frankly, I probably would’ve felt the same way had I not gone through all the schooling that I went through.
And here’s a phrase that really kind of sticks out to me. “Neurons that fire together, wire together. Neurons that fire apart, wire apart.” And it’s neuroplasticity. And, for whatever reason, I don’t understand why neuroplasticity doesn’t get more attention. I think people make a lot of money off the fact that people believe that, if you’re built a certain way, there’s nothing you can do about it except maybe take this pill or use this product. And truth of the matter is, no one knows how powerful the mind is.
Okay, so, back to it, we know this. And, again, it’s been out there. This research has been out there for 50 years, Tyson. You know, neuroplasticity, we’ve known about it.
Now, you can’t rewire everything but this, this problem-centric thinking, we can absolutely rewire that so that it becomes abnormal to focus on your problems and it becomes more normal to focus on your solutions. And remember this, I think this is why it’s so powerful, self-confidence is the number one variable for all human performance but, when you allow yourself to focus on problems, self-confidence decreases. I mean, it only makes sense. Whereas, if you train your brain to focus on solutions, self-confidence increases.
So, when you’re talking about things like the identity statement, the identity statement’s really based on research from a fellow by the name of Maxwell Maltz. Now, Maltz came out with a book back in 1960 called Psycho-Cybernetics. It was groundbreaking book in my field. And, in the book, he identified for the first time a concept called self-image.
Now, self-image, for all intents and purposes, is the same thing as self-confidence. But Maltz identified these three points. Number one, a person will not outperform nor will they underperform their self-image or their self-confidence for long. Number two, a person develops their self-confidence or their self-image by how they talk to themselves about themselves. And, number three, most people, because of this PCT (problem-centric thinking) that we’ve talked about, most people’s inner dialogue, their self-confidence, their self-talk is largely negative.
Okay. And so, what you have then is, you have a lot of people walking around with their self-confidence or their self-image far below what their potential is. Now, you mentioned the term an identity statement. And that’s a one of the tools that we worked on. We put our mental workout together which, again, this stuff I’m sure sounds a little bit foreign but, you know, if you pick up the book, it’s covered in the book in-depth and I try to do things. I think you know my style is “let’s keep this as simple as possible. It’s not going to read like a textbook, but more of, you know, narrative, stories and then here’s the information.”
The identity statement is really just a foundational piece to get a person started talking to themselves, about themselves, in a positive manner. So, I’ll share my identity statement. My identity statement right now is, “I outwork the competition every day. I am the most effective performance coach and speaker in the country. I experience true love as a husband and father.”
Now, it doesn’t make any difference if any of that’s true or not. Really, what it is it’s all about desire. I want those things to be true. And you notice, the way I say ‘em. I didn’t say, “I will become effective, or I’m going to, at some point, experience love as a husband and father.” I own it as if it’s already true. Now, when I tell myself this over and over, you know, I go through my mental workout pretty much every day. So, I just say it typically one time a day. When I say it to myself consistently, over time though, what happens is I start to believe in those things.
And I remember the first identity statement I had, when I first learned about this, it was, “I outwork the competition. I am the most effective sports psychology consultant in the world.” Now, this was 20 years ago. At that point, I wasn’t even the most effective sports psychology consultant in St. Louis. I might not even have been the most effective on my street, okay, but, over time, I kept saying it to myself. And, at some point, I started believing it. And that’s when it really kicked in. And I started really working. My work ethic improved dramatically. You know, I’d kind of say it this way. Once I started believing it, that’s when I think my competition really started to suffer because I started living that way.
But, again, a lot of it, that self-image, that self-confidence is based on how you’re talking to yourself about yourself. And most people are talking to themselves in a very negative manner. And that’s not good for performance.
Tyson: So, is there an element as sort of faking it– you know, faking the funk until you make it. Is that kind of part of it?
Jason: I think so. Most definitely.
I’ll tell a quick story. So, I say it, instead of fake it– what is it? Fake it until you make it. I say, act as if. Okay, I think, in my training, that’s what they called it. It’s the same principle.
You know, my first year with the St. Louis Cardinals was 2006. We won the World Series that first year. My last year with the Cardinals was 2011. We won the World Series that year. Somewhere in between those two World Series, the St. Louis Rams reached out to me and asked if I’d come in and work with them. And I remember we started the season, one of the seasons, 0 – 6, and I’ve never– I mean, Tyson, you and I was an athlete growing up. I’ve just been fortunate enough to have more winning than lose, okay?
And when I was with the Rams, I worked. Every Tuesday, I’d go in and basically spend the day with staff and players up at Rams Park. And it was Tuesday morning. And I was out walking the dog before heading up to Rams Park. And I remember my self-confidence was shot. I didn’t want to go to work which is really unique for me because I love the work. And I kind of thought to myself, “What is going on?”
And my confidence was just shot, 0 – 6. I didn’t know what to say. And then, I thought to myself, “Okay. Act as if, instead of 0 -6, let’s act as if we’re 6 – 0.” And I would go out there and I would do a presentation. And then, you know, have some individual meetings and so forth. And I thought, “Okay, if we were 6 – 0, would I have the same content in the presentation that I had already kind of put together for today?” And my answer was, “Absolutely not.” And then, I kind of thought about the delivery. You know, everything was off. That 0 – 6, everything was off. And I said to myself, “Hey, screw this. I’m going to act as if we’re 6 – 0.” And I remember, I called up there and said, “Hey, I’m running about 30 minutes late, is that okay?” And I re-wrote the presentation. And I went in there. And I delivered the thing as if we were 6 – 0.
And then, I remember I was sitting in the car, after the day, at Rams Park, before even leaving and I just wanted to evaluate. I said, “Okay. You know, you learn these techniques,” but I always kind of like to use myself as the lab rat, if you will. You know, I want to make sure this stuff actually worked. And I said to myself, “No doubt about it that what I just did, acting as if we were 6 – 0 was, no comparison, better than what I was about to do at 0 – 6.” Now, the Rams ended up winning four in a row right there. Now, I’m not going to say it was all me but probably. No, I’m teasing.
You know, but most certainly, I think, with self-confidence, you have to understand the importance of it. And if you’re not working to improve it, you’re going to have low self-confidence. Just remember, it’s totally normal to let your thoughts focus on the garbage. The more you focus on the garbage, the lower your self-confidence is going to be. So, if you just let it be as if it, just by nature, will be, you’re not going to be where you want to be.
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Tyson: So, you were talking about something that was really interesting. And that’s you didn’t mention the word self-awareness but you had a lot of self-awareness there and that’s a big part of what you teach, too. So, will you talk about, you know, really, just tracking and making sure that you’re scoring yourself to make sure that you are on track and that you are self-aware as to what’s going on in your life so you can fix things, if things are going awry?
Jason: Yeah. I think it’s actually probably one of my biggest strengths now but was one of my biggest weaknesses. Just by nature, I’m a self-evaluator. I’m consistently evaluating, you know, what’s going on in my head? What’s going on around me? And, until I learned how to do it effectively, it really worked against me because remember, you know, the normal way to self-evaluate is you’ll do a hundred things right, one thing less than perfect. The normal way to evaluate is to just zero in on that imperfection. You overlook all the good stuff and you zero in on that imperfection. And I realized that, again, is a sign of mental weakness because of the impact that has on a person’s self-confidence. So, I’ve learned how to evaluate appropriately.
And, just real quick, I think it’s important for people to hear this, if I was going to tell a person how to evaluate themselves, these are the three questions you should ask. Number one, what three things that did I do well today? With evaluation, always, Tyson, always start with the positive. I don’t care if it’s sitting in a restaurant with your spouse, always talk about what’s good about the restaurant instead of what’s bad. I don’t care if it’s evaluating a client, a case, your spouse, your body, whatever. With evaluation, you always begin with the positive, okay.
And then, the second question would be, what’s one thing I want to improve? So yeah, you know, the most successful people, they recognize what they’re doing well and they have this relentless pursuit of improvement. One thing. Don’t try to improve everything. And don’t work for perfection. Remember, here’s the question, what’s one thing I want to improve? Not, what are all the things I want to perfect, right?
And then, the third question, what’s one action step I can take to start making the improvement? So, you’re really just kind of taking this goal of improvement and turning it into an action step or a strategy, you know. So, I might say, “Okay. What’s one thing I want to improve? I want to be more prepared with my cases.” Okay. “So, what’s one action step? I can spend 15 minutes a day and I can zero in on my most important case.” I can just kind of always refresh myself 15 minutes a day on the most important case that’s active.” You know, something like that. You just start putting into action steps.
But if you evaluate yourself with the lens of, “What am I doing well, and what do I want to improve?” That adds to self-confidence as opposed to the normal person. All they do is say, you know, “What did I screw up on today?” And they just really kind of pull themselves into this negative tornado of all the things that they’re imperfect with. And that’s not good for anybody. You’re going to feel horrible. Your performance is going to go down. And that’s totally normal, again, which is so sad for people. But learn to evaluate the right way.
Tyson: You’re getting me amped up, man. I love it. But I want to talk, I want to sort of wrap up with vision. And I think, usually, you might want to start with vision. But I want to talk about these other principles first. I think the number one thing that I see people struggle with is vision. So, will you talk about– we’ll start with what is vision?
Jason: Yeah. So, just kind of think about goals on three different levels, okay? The highest level of goal setting would be vision goals. And vision goals should be three-year goals or longer. And then, you’ve got second level would be something called a product goal. And this is where most people goal set. It’s that 12-month result-oriented goal you’re trying to achieve. And then, the third level is process goals. And those are the daily activities that cause the product and the vision goals to become a reality.
If you don’t start with vision, you don’t start with, okay, where is it that a little bit longer term and, again, three years or longer? Then, it’s really difficult– if you’re not starting with more of the end in mind, it’s really difficult to figure out, “Okay, what really do I want to achieve this year?” And then, “What do I most importantly need to be doing daily to get where I’m trying to go?”
Most people, walking around, have some idea of vision but very, very few have a detailed idea of vision. And I just put it this way. If you don’t know where you’re trying to go, you literally have pretty close to a 0% chance of getting there.
Now, just because you take the time to figure out where you’re trying to go doesn’t mean you go from 0% to 100% chance of getting there. But I’ll take even a 1% chance over zero. Now, I’d tell you, it’s a lot greater than that.
And I think people who put time into some of the work, you know, you and I did together – it actually is quite surprising how powerful and effective this stuff is. You know, I’m a good old boy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Where I grew up, they didn’t talk about this stuff. And so, when I kind of learned about some of this stuff, going through school, you know, there was a part of me that was very, very skeptical. But, you know, like I said, I’ve tested everything I teach on myself before I would ever start working with somebody else.
And, you know, I’ll just say it this way. I think people that I grew up with are extremely surprised where I’ve ended up in life. This stuff really, flat out, works. And I think that’s why I have such a strong client base because the tools actually work if you work them the right way.
So, vision– you know, the exercise I had you start with which would be the same exercise I pretty much have anybody start with, I said, “Okay. Three to five years down the road, where do you want your life to be? You know, what are some of those important things you want to have accomplished in your life? Where do you want to be living? City, state, and house. You know, apartment, condo.” Just got back from Miami yesterday. If you want to have one of these beautiful, you know, floor-to-ceiling window condos in Miami, or if you want to be in West Palm Beach, or if you want to be in St. Louis, Missouri. Okay, fine. What city? What state? What house? What financial goals do you want to have achieved three to five years from now? How much money do you want to have in the bank? How much money do you want to be making each year?”
Then, you focus on some of the personal stuff. “Who are the most important relationships you want to have? And what do you want those relationships to be like?
The third part of it would be your own personal health and happiness. You know, “Where do you want to be?” You know, I know, for a lot of people, just their own personal health, you know. “Where do you want your weight to be? How do you want–? I know, for me, it’s all about my joints. I get joint pain. You know, I want my joints to feel good. I want my weight to be here. Emotionally, you know, I want to feel at peace. I don’t have any trouble personally feeling happiness. Mine is peace and satisfaction. I want to feel peace and satisfaction.
So, you know, I wrote out on paper answers to all those questions. And then, I kind of turned that into a 30-second vision, almost like a movie, where I’m the director of the movie and I’m also the main character. And so, I just kind of picture a 30-second snapshot of who I want to be five years from now and how I want my life to be, considering all those things we just talked about. You know, financially, where do I want to be with my own personal health and happiness? And then, who are those important people? For me, it’s my wife and three children. But, you know, I take a few seconds and zero in on for each person that’s of that high level importance. How do I want the connection to be? And, every day, I watch that video as part of that mental workout. And so, not only do I know the vision but I’m reminding myself of it every single day.
And you’ve heard people talk about know your why. That vision is my why. That’s, I think, why it’s so powerful is that’s why I get my butt out of bed early. That’s why I get after it as hard as I can all day because I want to be there in three to five years. And I think the likelihood of getting there, it’s pretty good. You know, I’d give it better than a 50/50 at this point. And I think a lot of it is because I’ve taken the time to figure out what is it that I want. And then, every day, I remind myself of that vision.
Tyson: It’s funny, I had a bunch of questions about vision, but you checked all the boxes as you were going along with the vision so it’s great. So, I’m going to use this last three minutes to ask you one question. And then, I want to tell people how they can get in touch with you.
But I was talking to someone yesterday, he came from a poor background, lived in another country and moved. And now he makes a pretty good living. But he is very fearful of losing it. And so, he’s struggling with his vision. He really is because he’s afraid of going back to where he was before. And he’s a little afraid of taking some risks. So, I guess, what advice would you give this person not knowing anything else, other than what I just told you?
Jason: Yeah. You know, again, we talked about those three different levels of goals – vision, product, and then the process. If I was working with him, I would really be pushing him to focus on process more than anything else.
I think people talk about this fear of failure. And then you also get people talking about a fear of success. All that really means is they’re too focused on the result. And remember this, your mind can only fully focus on one thing at a time.
You might have some people listening, say, “Well, this guy obviously knows nothing about multitasking.” Well, believe it or not, I know a lot about multitasking. And I know, maybe six or eight years ago, there were people saying multitasking is a really good thing, and learn how to become effective, and really good at it. And the truth of the matter is, those people are all gone because it was terrible advice. And, you know, I remember when it first started coming out, I thought, “This is horrible. They’re going to teach people the wrong stuff.”
Your mind can only fully focus on one thing at a time. And if your mind’s focused on the result itself, you cannot be focused on what best causes the result. It’s just not possible.
You know, think about a swimmer. Okay, if I’m in the middle of a swim race and I’m thinking about, you know, the time and my PR, I can’t be thinking about, you know, that long, deep reach that I need. And that’s what, you know, I think when people have that fear of failure, fear of success, they’re so focused on the result that they’re missing many, many opportunities to focus on the process or that daily activity that would best cause it.
So, again, you know, I’ll put it into attorney terms. You know, I think most people, because they don’t work with attorneys, they think you guys have all the business in the world and you never have to work at getting clients. Well, you and I both know that that’s not true. So, if I was worried about my results, again, a process for building my practice might be, “Okay. I’m going to make three or five outbound business-producing phone calls daily.” And instead of allowing myself to, you know, be nervous about lack of results, I’m going to just attack those calls every day.
And think about it, you know, people listening, it’s common sense. Everybody knows this. If you get in there and do that one most important activity, on a daily basis, the results are typically going to take care of themselves. So, I’d say quit worrying so much about the results and start focusing on the process.
Tyson: I love it. Let’s end it there.
Jason, how do people get your new book and, if they want to work with you, how do they get in touch with you?
Jason: So, the new book’s– you know, it’s out there. I think it just released last week. I’m kind of losing track of time. I think it released January 6 or January 7, but it hit the bestseller list before it even came out which is great. It’s my fifth one, which I’m really proud of.
And please, I think it’s a great work, right now, considering what we’ve just gone through in 2020, I think this is a very, very timely book. I would tell people they need to read this book. This book can change everything for a person. And the more people that read it, I think, the better our country is. We’re not in the best spot right now, but we are all on the same team. Like it or not, we are. The team – you could call our team, the United States. You could call our team the human race. But the more people we get on the team with that relentless solution focus, scientifically, we’re going to increase our health, happiness, and success. No doubt about it.
So, the book. You won’t have any trouble. You can just type in the title. You go to Amazon. Any of your booksellers. My website is jasonselk.com.
I try to give free stuff away. You know, again, I’ve got to run a business so I can’t give everything away for free. But I know that, you know, if you go to the website, we’re trying to– you know, there’s a once a week, we call it Mental Toughness Tuesday newsletter that can come out to you. It’s all free. You might check that out. I think people really say to me often, “Hey, keep doing those weekly emails. It really helps us.”
Jasonselk.com. If you want to find more information you can reach out to me. If you’re looking at coaching or anything like that, you know, again, the website’s the place to start.
Tyson: Yeah. No question, Jason. Get the newsletter. If you get nothing else, get the newsletter because it really is amazing. Jason also has Executive Toughness, 10-Minute Toughness, Lead Any Team to Win, Organize Tomorrow Today. I think, Organize Your Team Today, I think, is the other one. And I’ve got to say Executive Toughness may be my favorite, to this point. It’s really good.
Jason, thank you so much.
Jason: Tyson, you and I are on the same page here. But this new one– So, Executive Toughness has a special place in my heart as well. But I think this new one might even be better. I’d be curious. You know, people who’ve read Executive Toughness. I’m right now just going to start kind of evaluating. Okay, which one is better here? I think they’re all really good. But I think this one– and maybe it’s just the timing of it. This is a must read. If you’re looking for a book in 2021, pick this one up. I’ll guarantee you’ll get some great value from it.
Tyson: I will read it and give you my honest assessment [crosstalk].
Jason: Okay. I expect nothing less.
Tyson: Awesome. Thanks, Jason, so much. Appreciate it.
Jason: Great being with you.
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