Chris Van Vliet passion for broadcasting began at age 4, thanks to a Fisher Price cassette recorder that he’d been given as a childhood gift.

In high school, Van Vliet took communication studies, and after majoring in the subject at college, he pursued his dream of a career in television and radio. Fast-forward to now, and Van Vliet is a much-respected media personality, film critic, and YouTuber, conversing with some of the world’s most successful people. He’s in great shape, and is learning from the best.

The Canadian self-starter, born in Pickering, ON, knows all about what it takes to succeed. Van Vliet is a four-time Lower Great Lakes Emmy Award winner, he was the 2012 Cosmopolitan magazine Bachelor of the Year, and was an Ohio Excellence in Journalism Award recipient in 2013 and 2014. “I’m a curious person by nature,” says Van Vliet. “I’m the guy who’s going to ask all the questions at a party. With everyone who is at the top of their game, that I’ve had a conversation with, it’s obvious just why they are at the top.”

On his Podcast, Insight with Chris Van Vliet, the 38-year-old is obsessed with reverse engineering the mindsets and habits of world-class performers. He’s found that mental and physical fitness is not limited to lifting weights. The popular presenter shares what he’s learned from those big interviews, gathering traits he has observed so that we may be able to use in our own lives. “Tony Robbins famously says that success leaves clues … and it’s so true,” says Van Vliet.

1. Run Toward the Things That Scare You

Van Vliet lives by the philosophy of running toward the things that intimidate him, rather than avoiding them and then later regretting never having tried. Van Vliet has moved through six different cities during the course of his career, currently settling down in Los Angeles to be closer to Hollywood. Had Van Vliet stayed home in Canada, he would have missed out on interviews with the very stars who have influenced him as a human being.

“We all know the type of person who says, ‘No, I could never to that,’” says Van Vliet. “The thing is, you’ve already convinced yourself. Why not give something a try? If you don’t enjoy something after trying it, then at least you know this from genuine experience. Sometimes it is not the thing that actually scares you, but the idea of the thing.”

2. Make Other People Feel Special

“I’ve been super fortunate to speak with Dwayne Johnson many times now,” he says. “He’s the biggest star in the world, but he turns the moment around. He shakes hands with everyone — from the production people to the janitors. He makes the moment special for you! It’s an interesting star quality that you rarely see on that level.”

3. Make Eye Contact

“I would say that having interviewed Sylvester Stallone, and with anyone who is at that level, they will look you straight in the eye,” says Van Vliet. “Perhaps you are the 55th person who has interviewed them that day, but successful people make you feel important by making that eye contact.”

4. Keep to a Routine

“Something I have found with a lot of high achievers is the insane routine that they can keep up,” says Van Vliet. “The Rock always talks about traveling with his gym, the ‘Iron Paradise,’ and Mark Wahlberg has his routine. No matter where he is, or what he’s doing, Mark wakes up at 4 a.m. every morning and hits the weights. Then he’ll play golf afterward!”

5. Be Disciplined

“Mike O’Hearn said something to me in an interview that I will never forget,” says Van Vliet. “He says never miss a meal. Think about us, in our own everyday life, what he’s talking about is being disciplined. If you miss a meal, what is the knock-on effect of that? Do you wind up eating more later? So, missing a meal is non-negotiable, and that should apply to everything. Mike O’Hearn looks the way he does, with his incredible physique, because he doesn’t take shortcuts. He follows a formula all the way through, and that’s something that is non-negotiable to him.”

6. Don’t Let Past Failures Derail Future Successes

“The Rock’s goal was to play in the NFL. That was a dream of his, and he didn’t accomplish it,” says Van Vliet. “I was interviewing him for ‘Ballers,’ in which he now plays a retired football player on TV, and I asked him if he could go back and change anything in his life, would he make it so that he got to play in the NFL. He thought about it, and he answered that sometimes in life, things just don’t happen … and when they don’t, they can be the best things to never happen. I think about that answer all the time. We are all on this path, and you think that you are supposed to be doing a certain thing, but life throws you a curveball. The Rock went with the curveball, and I think that’s a really important lesson.

We’ve all heard the excuse that we don’t have as much free time as celebrities do, and it’s fair to say that we don’t all have the financial resources to bring the gym on our travels, but the theory behind these traits can be applied to each and every one of us. If we think about how we could personally apply such qualities like sticking to a routine, and making eye contact, we are getting somewhere. “Even if you and I could just take 1% of these traits away and use them in our own lives, it would be to our benefit,” says Van Vliet.

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