BC129: What Is Automobile University?

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Brian dives into the often-asked question, “What is Automobile University?” and gives you tips and advice to make the most out of your commute…

He goes in depth on:

  • The book that has been a game changer in his life.
  • Valuable podcasts that Brian listens to (other than the Peak Performance Podcast).
  • Tangible action steps to turn your vehicle into Automobile University.


Once I started listening to Win Forever I was like, “Man, these are concepts I can use as a leader and an athletic director; these are concepts and things that I can share with my coaches so that they can become more so that they can have a more positive impact on our student athletes.”

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What is Automobile University? Automobile University is a concept that I heard about many times when I was younger, whether it was guys like one of my mentors, Dr. Rob Gilbert, or motivational speakers and key thinkers like Tony Robbins or Jim Rohn. They’re always talking about Automobile University and turning your car into an educational center.

Really, it’s what you learn after you graduate from school or from university that matters the most. I think the older we get and the more experience we have, the more we realize the value of education. I’ve heard many people say that we often waste education on the young – the people that are having to go to school when they’re not into it – then once you get out of school you can’t get enough, you can’t learn enough. I think the older I get the better student I become, because I’m better at my time and I’m better at wanting to learn, really narrowing in the subject areas that I want to learn.

So what is Automobile University? It’s taking your car, having audiobooks that are with you or using on your phone, having this podcast, having the 12 Pillars of Peak Performance audiobooks, or having a digital training program that you listen to. YouTube videos that you listen to. So as you’re driving.

I remember as clear as day. I was a high school athletic director at Mansfield High School in Vermont. I picked up the book Success Is a Choice by Rick Pitino. I remember being like, “eh, I’ll listen to this book” and I put it in and it was really good. I wasn’t a huge basketball guy and not a huge Rick Pitino fan at the time. Ever since his book came out, The One-Day Contract, I thought that was a great concept. So good. But Success Is a Choice was good as well. I listened to that. Then somebody gave me the book Win Forever by Pete Carroll, and that was the game changer.

I remember I had a 15-minute drive to and from the office every day, and I used to listen to music sometimes in the morning if I was going to be in there working out, or I might be listening to ESPN radio talking about what was going on. Once I started listening to Win Forever I was like, “Man, these are concepts I can use as a leader and an athletic director; these are concepts and things that I can share with my coaches so that they can become more so that they can have a more positive impact on our student athletes.”

As I started listening to Win Forever 15 minutes to school and 15 minutes back, what I found was sometimes I’d get in the parking lot and Pete Carroll would be talking about a concept like competing in everything or how practice is the most important thing that they do, and I’d find myself sitting there in the parking lot for 5, 10, sometimes 20 minutes, not wanting to stop listening to the book.

One time I was in the garage in my house in Vermont listening to the book, and my girlfriend comes out and she looks at me. She’s standing there for like five minutes. I had no idea because I was so dialed in to what was going on. She comes and knocks on the window and she goes, “What are you doing?” I said, “Oh, I’m getting better.” She just started laughing and walked in the house. That was a game changer for me. That night I cancelled my XM satellite radio subscription. I took all the audio CDs out of my car except for one – Metallica Live: Mexico City, because sometimes you just need some juice – and I put all the audio CDs back inside of the house and I got audiobooks and I started listening to audiobooks.

This was before Bluetooth. My truck still doesn’t have Bluetooth in it. I have a connector that I have to plug into an aux jack. I’ve got an old 2007 Avalanche.

But what am I listening to when I’m rolling? When I’m rolling, I’m listening to books consistently. Heads-Up Baseball is an audiobook that I’ll listen to. Another one would be The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Win Forever by Pete Carroll. Nowadays a lot of times I will listen to podcasts, whether it’s the Peak Performance Podcast that we’re recording here or listening to the Tim Ferriss Show. I’ll listen to Jocko and his podcast.

A lot of times I’m listening to Philosopher’sNotes, Brian Johnson. If you go to www.BrianJohnson.me I’m a big fan of what he does in terms of taking books and breaking them down into 20-minute CliffsNotes. I’ll listen to those CliffsNotes and if there is something that really hits me, what I’ll then do is buy the audiobook and listen to it. If the audiobook really hits me, then I’ll go buy the textbook and read it. That is kind of like how I get a book in my hands, a physical book in my hands. One, I’m going through the CliffsNotes or I’m listening to the author talk about it on a podcast or I’m watching a YouTube video.

For example, Amy Cuddy, the social psychologist at Harvard, and her book Presence about the science and power of body language. I listened to her TED Talk in the car multiple times. Then I listened to a podcast. It was actually a lecture that she gave at Harvard about body language. Then I was listening to Brian Johnson break down her book Presence. I was so into it and so turned on by what she was talking about with the increase in testosterone and the decrease in cortisol by simply how you carry yourself, and how body language can change and shape who you are, and that it’s not “fake it till you make it” – it’s really “fake it until you become it” – that I went and I bought the book. As I bought the book, I knew it would be one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. As I started to go through that, then that becomes a book that we break down inside of the Inner Circle.

What are you listening to in Automobile University? Hopefully you’re listening to these podcasts as they come out every Wednesday. Hopefully you are listening to our Inner Circle audio that comes out on the first of every month, then you are going through those consistently. The Inner Circle audio is not a one-time-and-done listen. It’s something to listen to consistently over the course of the month.

Obviously, there are other things I’m sure you’ll be listening to there as well – maybe The 12 Pillars of Peak Performance book on Amazon or in iTunes or videos that you’re going to be talking about with your athletes that day on the digital training program. Again, it doesn’t have to just be an audio. You can listen to a video in your car as well. Don’t watch the video obviously – watch the road!

If you don’t have a Bluetooth connection in your truck – like mine is a 2007 and I didn’t realize they had these until a guy named Bernie Martinez, a successful high school baseball coach in Texas, was riding with me and he goes, “Oh, you’ve just got to go to Best Buy and get this.” No joke – there was a Best Buy right there. We pull into Best Buy and I buy this little black box that you plug into your aux jack and it Bluetooths to your phone. So my truck is now Bluetooth capable, and I do use Bluetooth and listen to it in my truck.

Sometimes if I’m renting a car and I’m on the road and I don’t have a Bluetooth connection and there isn’t an aux jack (which I always carry an aux jack cable with me), I’ll simply take the phone and I’ll put it inside of the cup holder and the echo that comes out of the bottom of the cup holder is loud enough for you to be able to listen to as you’re driving in Automobile University.

Why is Automobile University so good? I think everyone who is listening to this podcast will understand the value of reading, but there also are going to be people that are pushing the envelope and giving everything they’ve got every day. If you’re that type of person, when you get home at night and you have the alone time to be able to read, often you’re going to get the head nod and you’re going to start to fall asleep. Some people will wake up and actually read for 15-20 minutes in the morning as part of their morning routine. That’s great. For me, I like to get up and get going with exercise and listen to the book. I call it my “learn and burn.”

You’ve just got to find the time that works for you, but I know you have time. And what we call “net time” here – if you’ve listened to another one of our podcasts where we talked about Pillar #3 Time is Ticking, we spent a lot of time talking about net time, “no extra time.” A good friend of mine, Randy Jackson, is a head football coach (one of the top in the country). He is the author of Culture Beats Strategy and he is a football coach here in Texas. A state championship-winning coach.

One of the things that Randy was doing in his routine is he would go and he would get to school, and he would hike the stairs at this football stadium every morning as part of his exercise, and he would listen to music. I said, “Coach, how about you listen to an audiobook? How about we listen to one together – how about we both go through the book The Magic of Thinking Big?” Lou Holtz, the famed Notre Dame football coach, it was his favorite book. Randy, being a Lou Holtz fan (as we all are), he listened to The Magic of Thinking Big.

I listened to it that week as well. A four-hour book. I was driving to Houston and Houston is a four-hour drive from where I live. I listened to it there and back. I got through it twice in two days. The discussion that we had about that book, The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, was fantastic.

I think that is the power of audiobooks – is that you can listen to it, you can maximize your time. It doesn’t matter if you’re exercising, if you’re mowing the lawn, if you’re walking the dogs, if you’re waiting for your kids, if you’re driving across the country – we all have windshield time. I know a lot of people are making phone calls when they’re in the car – especially college coaches that are listening to this. I understand that is your prime time to be making phone calls and recruiting so you’re not having to do it when you’re home. I understand that and that’s valid. But there is also a time where you’re not making those recruiting calls, and what are you doing?

Are you listening to music? Sometimes you listen to music to get your energy levels up and that’s great, but are you listening to talk radio? I hate talk radio because it just doesn’t – sometimes if it’s informative and it’s educational then I’m into it, but if it’s just people talking about like what happened in the SEC football this weekend, who gives a shit?

Let’s lock in and make yourself better and dial in an audiobook. Maybe take an SEC football coach. Take Nick Saban’s book How Good Do You Want to Be? and listen to that. It’s phenomenal. It’s going to challenge you to become more and that is what you need to grow, and that is what you need if you want more – is you need to become more. How do you become more? It doesn’t happen inside of your comfort zone. It’s outside of your comfort zone.

Try an audiobook. Try enrolling in Automobile University. You can thank me later. Go Dominate the Day.

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