Steve Adams: Becoming a Peak Performer

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Steve Adams discuss:

  • The cultural addiction to distraction and how it is affecting your work.
  • Productive and destructive health habits.
  • Using your prime time for your prime tasks.
  • Living a healthier, better life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Physiology, psychology, and engineering your lifestyle are key to your peak performance.
  • You’ve got to take care of the billion dollar asset, which is you – your body. You only get one brain and one body, and it is a big part of being highly productive.
  • Automate everything you can. Every decision you make in the morning wears down your capacity for what you can do in each day.
  • Sleep needs to become your number one task every day.

“Your addiction to distraction is costing you your fortune.” —  Steve Adams

Connect with Steve Adams:  




Connect with Steve Fretzin:

LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin

Twitter: @stevefretzin

Facebook: Fretzin, Inc.


Email: [email protected]

Book: The Ambitious Attorney: Your Guide to Doubling or Even Tripling Your Book of Business and more!

YouTube: Steve Fretzin

Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911

Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.



Steve Adams, Narrator, Steve Fretzin


Steve Adams  [00:00]

Let me just say a phrase and I hope, I hope this hit you hard. This is intentional. Your addiction to distraction is costing you your fortune period. Because now the game is who can manage and marshal their attention better than the next person.


Narrator  [00:21]

You’re listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer, coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.


Steve Fretzin  [00:44]

Hey, everybody, welcome to be that lawyer. I hope you’re having a lovely day today. My name is Steve Fretzin, as the announcer mentioned, and you know, this show is you know, is all about making it rain, getting that business development, and making sure that you’re staying on top of the business of law as well as the billable hour that you’re currently engaged in, I’m sure. And you know, one of the things that’s really important to stay on top of your game is to have the right mindset to have the right fitness to have the right, you know, approach to how you’re taking care of yourself, if you’re not taking care of yourself very hard to take care of your clients very hard to make sure that you’re sustainable. So I’ve got a guest today who’s going to really break it down for you and make sure that your peak performance, his name is Steve Adams, he is the chief bottle washer and CEO and how that over at Tiger pie. And how’s it going there, Steve?


Steve Adams  [01:35]

Steve, it’s great. I’m doing well. And you nailed it on the head. I do a little bit of everything.


Steve Fretzin  [01:40]

Yeah. And you’ve got a really interesting background. And so your business background, which I’m sure led you to where you are today, and maybe give a little bit of Reader’s Digest for my audience here.


Steve Adams  [01:49]

Yeah. So I got out of college, got my MBA in business school and went into corporate banking did that for 15 years, I was good at business development that led to me becoming a regional bank president in my mid 30s. But I just didn’t love banking. So I left and started franchise pet superstore business, I didn’t start the franchise I bought in. And 21 years later, we are the largest franchisee in the system with about 800 employees and revenue of about 100 million and a 45 units in six states. So went through a lot learning, I had to reinvent myself as a leader multiple times, you know, as you scale something, but the thing I did poorly, and I think you really hit it on the head, Steve was I didn’t take care of me, the prized asset, if you will, the leader, I ended up suffering pretty severe case of burnout. And that led to me selling the business to my partners and taking a year off. And that’s how I got in this business that I’m in today.


Steve Fretzin  [02:48]

Yeah, that’s like a rags to riches story. And then back to rags, rags, rags, but you know, just realizing that, you know, God, if you don’t take care of yourself, you know, what’s it all worth? You know, what’s it all worth if you don’t have your house if you don’t have your mind in the right place? So you also wrote a book, I believe it’s called unleash the peak performer in you. What is that all about?


Steve Adams  [03:11]

Well, that out of the eight, nine month period, I took off after my resignation from my business and sale. You know, I had been a student of leadership and productivity and peak performance for 25 years. So it wasn’t like my first entree into this world. But I decided that I needed to find out how did I get here. And I also met a terrific doctor in Los Angeles, who’s now in Seattle, where we have a clinic, he helped rebuild me, he kind of reengineered my health from the ground up. And really, what I learned was, if you’re going to be a peak performer, you have to first optimize your physiology, okay? Because, you know, peak performance is really about marshaling attention on the most strategic things that you can do, and then executing on them. Just like when a lawyer has to sit down and actually work through a project and create documents or solution for the client, they can’t do that. Half paying attention, they gotta be 100% focused. And that takes great health or you can’t do it because it’s expensive neurobiologically to be able to focus like that. The other thing is, that’s really vital. There’s it’s a three legged stool, physiology, the other one psychology having a great mindset. And I can break that down more later, if you want. And then the third is engineering, your lifestyle, how you operate and your environment. And so what I did was I wrote a book on the peak state like being in the zone or flow state, and I worked backwards and broke it down and said, How do you get there in a layman’s term way that you can apply? And so that’s what the books about and so it’s really effective for people like lawyers and writers who have to block their time and get real deep work done high value work done, because it can be a roadmap for them, and how to get way more done than they are today?


Steve Fretzin  [05:14]

And are there things that you’re seeing in we all see it all the time, but I’d love to get your take on it. Why are people in such bad shape? Why are we all mentally, physically physiologically, like broken down?


Steve Adams  [05:26]

Well, the culture has really changed. You know, when I was a banker in the late 80s, early 90s, you know, it was okay, if it took six weeks from the time you met the customer, to loan committee approval, to writing the commitment letter to documenting the deal in closing, and everything is compressed. And with the advent of the iPhone, in 2007, when that ushered in the digital age, everybody’s expectations are, you’re always on always available, instant response. And if you’re not careful, you’re on these devices way too much. And these things emit blue light, which has this effect of affecting your circadian rhythm that affects your your brain in a way that makes it harder to sleep by being on the device too much. And looking at screens all day. Number one, number two, we never are down because we always feel like we got to be on with the phone and the access that it provides. And the pace is sped up. And so there’s just an epidemic of anxiety of depression, there’s an epidemic of poor sleep. And all of that starts this vicious cycle where and I can break this further down later. Also, we’re in is a constant state of stress. And that constant state of stress is breaking us down earlier than people used to because people didn’t have this kind of stress that they have today. Yeah,


Steve Fretzin  [06:51]

so let’s go forward with what you’re working with lawyers on and working with business professionals on workaholics, the people that are addicted to their phones that are constantly on that are feeling the stress, they’re listening to this right now. And they’re saying, Hey, that sounds like me, you know, what is Steve talking about? That would be helpful to me? What should I be considering that I need to change so that I can get my state of mind and my physiology, my psychology, etc? in the right direction?


Steve Adams  [07:19]

Yep. Well, I’ll try to be brief. I mean, I think, and I’m not here pitching books, but I, my book can really break this down for you after you hear this today, in terms of how to do this, but I think the most important thing is start with what is the most vital thing you have to do every day as a lawyer. And that’s billable hours on work that is productive and good for your client. Okay, start there. How do I maximize my time on that? All right. And so if you’re a morning person, and you between eight and noon, need to get your best work done, that needs to become sacred. And you need to block everything else around it. So that time happens with the phone. I mean, I can give you some basic things like my phone, none of the notifications are on. I also physically, when I’m in a focus state, like right now I’m on a podcast. So it’s a little bit different. But what I’m focused stay this thing goes in a drawer out of sight. Because there’s research that says if it’s even within your eyes view, it’s distracting.


Steve Fretzin  [08:25]

Yeah, I mean, even when I don’t use my phone while I’m driving, and I obviously if someone calls it goes through the car, it doesn’t go through the you know, I’m not picking up the phone. But there have been moments where I have literally put my hand on my phone for no reason. And I just think about it stop myself. I go, what the f? Ranch? Was that? What just happened there? And then you watch something like the social dilemma, or you know that you realize Holy mackerel, we’re conditioned beasts, we are animals, we’re dog, we’re addicted, completely no reason at all for me to touch my phone, like I’m touching, you know, like pad or something. I mean, it’s that was an insane moment that I had some like realization that I was addicted. Totally.


Steve Adams  [09:04]

I agree, Steve. And let me just say a phrase. And I hope if people are, I hope this hit you hard. This is intentional. Your addiction to distraction is costing you your fortune, period. And because now the game is who can manage and marshal their attention better than the next person, because we’re in a highly distracting world. And here’s the challenge to Steve and this isn’t the introduction. In my book I talk about from my research in the book. There are 12 major technological advances that are all converging and exponentially accelerating all at the same time. And, and the prediction by technologists are we’re going to experience more technological change in the next 10 years. It’s already started in the 2020s. We’ve seen that with how we’ve adapted with the pandemic, but we’re going to experience more change in the 2020s than we have in the past 100 For years, technologically now think about what’s happened in the last 100 years. And that’s an exponential environment, you can’t attack this with old world linear solution, which is work harder, work longer work faster, that’s not going to work anymore. And that’s why the books really about how to work in the zone or in a flow state. And when you do that the research is you are 500% more productive than when you are not in a flow state. And this is not a mystical thing, Steve, this is just when I can focus for 60 or 90 minutes on one thing that’s important, that’s flow.


Steve Fretzin  [10:38]

Well, and the other, you know, experts say, you know, every time you get interrupted in that flow state, you lose 15 minutes of productivity. So if you’re distracted by an alarm chiming on your phone, you’re distracted by a phone call coming in, you’re distracted by someone, you know, eventually knocking on your office door, when you’re back in your office, if you’re already back in your office, these are all things that take you out of that flow state. And then you just add another hour, two hours, three hours to the work that you would have already had done. Is that right?


Steve Adams  [11:06]

It is. And when we work with clients, we have a medical doctor on staff who is brilliant, we what we do is we teach you how to do this. But we also, it was really important for people who are listening, whether you ever work with me or not, or our doctor, it’s not enough just to know what you should do. And then block that time off, and then focus and do it. What I really want, the message I really want to work on today and share is you’ve got to take care of the billion dollar asset, which is you your body, okay, you only get one brain and one body. And a big part of being highly productive. Steve is having a high amount of energy and mental clarity and focus. And so it’s really important to do some of the fundamentals that need to be done to be able to put you in a position to be like that. And I’m happy we can talk about some of those if you like. So,


Steve Fretzin  [12:02]

yeah, let’s get into it. It’s perfect. Yep.


Steve Adams  [12:05]

So a big one is look at what you put into your body. From a fuel standpoint, I want you to think differently now look at food as either poison, or as medicine. And that’s how our doctor breaks it down very easy for our clients. Now we make it easier for them to be motivated, because we give them test results that they’ve never seen in their life, we’re doing some of the most advanced testing in the world right now, including genetic testing, I’ll tell you, when I got confronted by the truth of what my tests were, it’s like, okay, there’s nothing I can do this, this is it. This is the law. If you’re like a lawyer, you know. And I can either choose to move forward with this truth or I can ignore it and pay the price. And a big part of solving that is the quality of what you put in your body. And I’ll just make it easy for this podcast. If it’s in a bag or a box, don’t eat it, eat real food, just real food that came out of the ground or an animal. And that’s a simple way. The next thing is moving everyday. There’s a 34 year study by Harvard, you don’t have to go to the gym, a lot of lawyers probably on this thing are busy people, they don’t have time to go into the gym for 90 minutes every day, by the time you factor in the drive time and the shower and everything. If you just get up and walk briskly for 30 minutes, five days a week, that’s good enough. And everybody can do that. You know, first thing in the morning, get out and go. So movement and nutrition. And hydration is another one have water next to you all day long, you should get half your body weight in ounces. That’s a big one. Another one is meditation. And there are 14 over 1400 studies on meditation. And my book, I’ve got, I think eight or 10 scientific papers I cited on the benefits of it. But what it does for you in terms of space clearing, another thing you want to learn is called diaphragm ik breathing. We can talk about that further. But it’s really the act of getting into coherence that actually up regulates your immune system and improves your focus just by doing diaphragm ik breathing for, you know, five minutes right before you sit down to do an important piece of legal work. Those are the biggies. There’s more. I mean, a big one is also optimizing sleep.


Steve Fretzin  [14:25]

Yeah, talk talk to that for a minute, because I think you’re hitting all these great points with food and exercise and meditation. And now let’s talk about sleep. Because that’s, I agree, I need my seven and a half hours. I’ve got it down where I know exactly how much sleep I need. And if I get less than that, and I don’t I really make sure that I do get that amount and I’m ready to go the next day. And I don’t care if I go to bed at one in the morning. I’m going to sleep for that seven half and usually I go to bed at like 930 10 and I can get up real early because I know that seven that number is the right number for me.


Steve Adams  [14:56]

Yeah, you found that right? So that’s the thing you A lot of people think I’ll sleep when I’m dead, and they have this cavalier attitude toward it. And actually poor sleep is probably the most destructive health habit there is, besides maybe smoking or excess drug or alcohol use. And the thing about sleep is, it needs to become your number one task every day. Like number one most important thing when I was first getting better, I was working with a neuropsychologist, who worked with an NFL quarterback that I know and this quarterback referred me to this guy, and he said, I want you to redefine your relationship with Steve, it’s got to become your number one task every day. And so what we always would do with our clients is we get them going to bed at the same time every night, I realize you can’t always do it. But if you can be six days out of seven, the same time wake up, same time bedtime, we teach them a pre sleep routine, we work on hygiene, we also get them on a biofeedback device so that they start to understand their sleep architecture. And then what happens is, is every day you’re looking at your data, and you start thinking about okay, my deep sleep wasn’t so good last night, what did I do? Oh, I drank I had a glass of wine right before bed, or I had a big bowl of popcorn or something, you know. And so sleep is something that you want to really invest learning about. Because if you sleep well, and you move and you eat, well, you’ve nailed most of what you need to do.


Steve Fretzin  [16:28]

Well, the the add on to that, that I would just say, and I’ve had a number of clients that I’ve worked out, like their time management issue, and part of it, I find is that they’re staying up too late. And then they get the sleep they need. But that means they’re sleeping till 738 o’clock. Well, by the time they get ready and head off to work and do whatever they got to do, it’s 930 10 o’clock, and that’s when they’re starting their day, well, they’re missing three hours of productive work time, maybe even really, maybe during their flow time, right, you know, the brain work they can do, because they’re staying up late, and I find out what they’re doing up late at night. And it’s usually nothing, it’s usually just TV or, or just that’s their routine, and they’ve got to break it because that’s not unless you’re working at night, if you’re really good at working in the evening, and you can knock out work and before bed or whatever, that’s, you know, another option for us. But But most people don’t, most people are just up, because that’s what they do, they stay up till midnight, or one o’clock and binge watch or eat or whatever. And that’s gonna ruin the rest of that habit that that takes you down on your out billable hours and your efficiency during the day.


Steve Adams  [17:28]

I agree. And you know, you brought up something like late, one of the worst things you can do to your body is the eat after 7pm. And we get into the science of timing of eating. Because if you can learn to time your eating, that will actually improve your sleeping. So that’s a big one. So you’re right, Steve, if your chronotype is such that you’re not a morning person, you’re an evening person and you work in the evening, that’s okay. Most people aren’t. But if you’re a morning person, my encouragement would be you know, get up early and do that do your best work early. Because, you know, the neuroscience on brain health and energy is think of your brain like your cell phone battery every day. And you only have so much cognitive bandwidth, so much cognitive energy every day. So one of the things we teach is automation, you know, lay out everything the night before, get your coffee set, get your lunch made, have your breakfast decision already made, lay out your gym, clothes, everything so that in the morning, when you wake up, you just go because every time you make a decision in the morning and some of those useless things, you’re kind of wearing down the battery for the core legal work you need to do. So that’s a really big one.


Steve Fretzin  [18:44]

That’s really great advice, because we do invest energy. And you know, even this morning, I was trying to figure out what I was going to have my wife saw me open up the fridge. She’s like, What are you trying to find? I’m like, oh, boy, you know, what’s wrong expending energy to your point, you know, in a way that wasn’t really productive. And I ended up making a bad decision anyway. So there you go. Hits had a bagel, which is which delves into the poison category, right?


Steve Adams  [19:05]

It can be Yeah, well, not for everybody. Not for everybody. But I


Steve Fretzin  [19:09]

think you know, I’m not I know that when I eat gluten. I don’t think I have like a gluten allergy. But I definitely can feel like heavier and my brain feels a little flatter when I have gluten than when I maybe just have protein.


Steve Adams  [19:21]

I agree. And for me genetically, I learned because we genetic tests are really I learned that I don’t metabolize starch. And as soon as I got starch out of my diet, my 25 year problem with acid reflux was gone overnight. And I spent all those years with specialists and regular Doc’s they couldn’t figure it out. So look at the brain. You know, when you make decisions about things that don’t matter in your primetime, you’re leaving attention residue on that you don’t ever really completely get off from that. And here’s another thing. The research is really clear on this. Multitasking does not work. Stop doing it. It doesn’t work. And then the second thing is, don’t task switch. So when you’ve set your day up, and let’s say this is, you know, a real estate attorney, and they’ve got to create a purchase agreement, and all the documents, you know, for agreeing to a sale of a piece of real estate for that hour, or whatever it takes you to create that agreement. Don’t do anything else. Don’t check a phone, don’t answer a call. When you switch tasks, you’re burning that brain energy up fast, and you’re leaving attention residue on each one. And so therefore, you’re not going to do any of those things as well.


Steve Fretzin  [20:36]

Yeah, I want to ask just one more thing about food. And then we’re going to wrap up with learning more about some of what your deliverables are. Because it might be interesting to lawyers to know like, Alright, so how does Steve out? How could he if I was engaged? How would he helped me improve my psychology, my physiology, my etc? Going on my health? How do I get a stronger battery? Okay. So the argument is poison or medicine. You mentioned that earlier that you’re one or the other. And then you mentioned if it’s in a bag or a box, okay? So there are people and and maybe I’m one of them, I’m not going to admit to this on air, that say, well, listen, you only live once. And you know, I want ice cream, and I want candy and I don’t want to deprive myself of that wine or deprive myself of things that make me happy. So what’s the balance there? And what’s the suggestion there? The advice there because I I think I battle with that a little bit. Now. I did admit it, okay.


Steve Adams  [21:30]

It’s okay. I do too. I have an addiction to popcorn. I’ll just I’ll be public about it.


Steve Fretzin  [21:34]

I love popcorn I had when I went to a movie for the first time and had an entire bag medium bag of popcorn. My wife didn’t even like she’s like, Can I have some? I’m like, What have some of what, like I killed it.


Steve Adams  [21:47]

I get the big bucket, the $12 one, I have a little bit of it. So I’m with you. So of course my doctor calls it treating, not cheating, because he said mentally it’s a different game. He said I found when people cheated, they gave up. But when they said to themselves, I’m going to treat today. What that meant was I’m on a plan, but I’m just going to treat. And he goes I know it seems silly, but it’s subtle. And over the decade plus he’s been a practicing doctor. He said that has been a real difference maker for people. And so you know, I have to be fairly hardcore because of my starch metabolism, it actually creates a lot of problems for my body. If I don’t obey that. What I do is like Friday nights date night, it’s Friday, we’re doing this on and so my wife and I are gonna go out tonight, and I will eat what I want tonight. The other six take a digestive enzyme, and then the rest of the week, I’m spot on.


Steve Fretzin  [22:41]

I’m sorry to stop you. So tonight, you’re going out for dinner. So does that include starch is that what the enzyme is for? That’s what the enzymes for Okay, so we’re gonna have the starch, which you know, is not good for you. But you’re going to take a digestive enzyme to kind of balance it out this one for this treat.


Steve Adams  [22:58]

One day out of seven. And it used to be I got starched three meals a day times seven days, yay. So, but here’s the thing, you know, if you’re 27, and you’re brand new lawyer, this probably a lot of this isn’t going to matter for a while. So for someone like that, you know, 27 to 35. If you work on your sleep and your stress, that’s probably enough, you know, the diet probably isn’t as important. But when you start to move into middle age, and the tire starts to form around the belly, and the rd, you start to plug in all these other things that what we say to our client is, look, we know this is not easy, but you’re already great at what you do, you know, our typical client that works with us at our clinic level at our higher level, they’re typically 45. Plus, they’re starting to break down. And at the point in their life, when they’re the best that they’re ever going to be, they start to break down. And what we try to do is we say, here’s some very simple things and you got to coach, it’s going to help you build these new habits. If you do these things, you’re greatly increasing the odds. Now I’m talking to all lawyers here. So I’m being really careful with my language, I’m not guaranteeing you longevity. What I’m saying is you’re going to vastly improve your odds of greater longevity of healthier, older years, and more time to do what you do and to enjoy your family and your kids and grandkids. And so everybody has to make that trade off. We’re not crazy people. We’re not saying you can never enjoy life and any of that, but the intensity with which you apply this relates to how old you are and how acute you are, in terms of your health condition.


Steve Fretzin  [24:39]

Does that make sense? It makes perfect sense. And I think, you know, what we’re saying here is it’s living a healthy, better life. It’s not about cutting out everything you enjoy, I think in moderation, right? And, but that’s a good segue into what do you do, Steve? Because I think you’ve got some such really interesting and incredible mechanisms for helping people figure out where you know how they need to live that life. So talk, just to give us a minute or two on that. And we’ll wrap up, I really think it’s interesting what you the business that you’re in? Well, I


Steve Adams  [25:09]

appreciate it. And listen, I have been a very busy entrepreneur, banking professional, our doctor and I both went through burnout, we’ve lived through this. And burnout is a lot of things. It’s just a catch all phrase. And so we’ve built this for people like who are listening to this, okay. So you can work with this in multiple levels, we have like, obviously, my book is a great place to start. We also have an online course that goes deep into how to work in a flow state. And that course is not expensive. And you will get minimum a tenfold return on investment from that, because it’ll help you really get more output out of a typical day. And for a lawyer, that means 1000s of dollars a day. Okay, oh, yeah. And then we have a stress management program, which teaches you how to self regulate through stress. That’s a game changer, that’s under $1,000. We have a sleep stress combination program. And then we’ve got our big program that where we actually go to Seattle and get a brain scan and do all of our advanced testing work with a doctor and a coach for a year. So you don’t have to start there, you can start and get to know us a little bit and get some wins and get better and kind of see, okay, I want to keep going with these people or not. That’s kind of the whole thing. So the deliverables are the book is the kind of how to manual. And then the online course is the book on steroids. And then we’ve got a stress program, a sleep program, and then a total health reset and optimization program.


Steve Fretzin  [26:46]

Right? That’s awesome, man. So if people want to learn more about this, get your book etc. How do they find you?


Steve Adams  [26:53]

So the book, just go to Amazon, that’s the easiest place everybody finds it. But Tiger That’s T IG er, Super simple, super easy to remember. Yep, go there. And you’ll see in the first third of the page, if you like, what you’re seeing what like what you heard, just click on it, and it’ll schedule a discovery call with me, or one of my sales guys. And the first call, we say right up front, nobody’s selling you anything today, all we want to do is ask questions and learn about your life and how we might be able to help you.


Steve Fretzin  [27:26]

Yeah, I think that’s a really good approach and the right approach people just, you know, you they want to know that this is something that would work for them. And they want to know that, you know, you’re taking them down a positive path. And I know that you will. So just thanks, man. This was I mean, I’ve done a number of shows on health, fitness, wellness, mindset, meditation, all this and I think you’ve kind of covered it all like you really soup to nuts, the whole thing. So I just want to thank you for coming on the show and sharing your wisdom. And hopefully, then I’m taking I took a page of notes. Hopefully other people are taking notes. I mean, I’m running the show, and I’m taking notes people, so come on. But anyway, Steve, thanks so much. I appreciate you spending some time today. See, thank you. I appreciate it very much. Yeah, my pleasure. And hey, everybody, thank you for spending time with us. And again, hopefully you get one step closer to being that lawyer someone who is competent, organized in a skilled Rainmaker. Take care be safe be well.


Narrator  [28:22]

Thanks for listening to be that lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes