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Activating Brain Plasticity with Tom Bilyeu

Tom Bilyeu is a serial entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Quest Nutrition – a billion-dollar company predicated not on money, but rather on creating value for people. The company mission was to end metabolic disease – one of two pandemics facing the planet. After exiting Quest and generating extraordinary personal wealth, Bilyeu turned his attention to the other pandemic facing society – the poverty of poor mindset. To solve the mindset problem at scale and help hundreds of millions of people adopt an empowering mindset he has co-founded the media studio, Impact Theory with his business partner and wife, Lisa Bilyeu. Their aim is to influence the cultural subconscious by building a single-minded content creation machine that makes exactly one type of content – content that empowers people.


"Act as if there are no limits."


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  • When Tom was a kid, he subconsciously took on a comment that his father made about him as a part of his identity. The comment was: “I actually think you are better behind the camera than you are in front of it.”
  • As a result, Tom believed that he was naturally gifted in film and went on to do very well in film school.
  • In his last year, Tom became one of four people selected to direct a senior thesis film. To his surprise, it ended up being what he calls a “catastrophic flop”.
  • This experience caused Tom to realize that he did not have the innate talent he thought he had. Tom slid into depression and for several years, lived with the mindset that he “sucked” at the thing [film] that he loved, poured his energy into, and had taken on massive amounts of debt to get a degree in.
  • To alleviate depression, Tom began reading about the brain and discovered the then, widely contested notion of brain plasticity.
  • The choice to believe brain plasticity was real changed his life.
  • This is what he now says is the only belief that matters: “Once you believe that energy invested into getting better at something, you will actually be rewarded with improved skillset.”
  • Once you believe that, then your actions are to go and get good at something and the reward is you can do things that other people can’t do.
  • Being able to do things that other people can’t do is what makes us unique.
  • Tom admits that the act of putting one foot in front of the other changed his life financially and emotionally. He said he realized that just because he was bad at something one day, did not mean he had to be bad it the next day. Taking each step over and over across multiple arenas led to his huge success.
  • Tom became liberated from the idea that his talent and intelligence are fixed.


  • The prefrontal cortex of the human brain does not finish developing until you are twenty-five years old, giving you time to epigenetically respond to your environment.
  • Culture is the most incredible tool that humans have — think about our ability to exploit every niche on this planet.
  • Humans are able to go and thrive everywhere because we can teach each other — you don’t have to relearn. With Jim’s help, someone could learn in a short time what it took him years to discover.


  • Why is it important to believe that you can do anything you set your mind to without limitations? (keywords: without limitations) It’s important because it is a lie.
  • In Jim’s book, Limitless, a  L.I.E. is a limited idea entertained.
  • It does not make sense to believe in or focus on limits because it does not help you to move toward your goals.
  • Although Tom knows that limits exist, he chooses to believe the opposite. He believes in the lie because it empowers him to go beyond the “limits”.
  • It’s about recognizing that you are having a biological experience. Your brain creates a simulated environment for you. Your brain has no interest in telling you the truth; it only has interest in keeping you alive.
  • Raw, objective facts are useless. To your brain, it doesn’t matter what’s true, it matters what is functional.
  • There is no question that you are limited, but if you focus on that then you never go as far as you could have potentially gone.
  • No matter how much you do, you will run out of energy before you run out of potential — so keep pushing, try to get as good as you can, and act as if there are no limits.


  • You don’t need to get rid of the negative voice in your head or your reaction to what people think.
  • It’s not going to feel good if people hate what you are doing, but it’s important to ask yourself your reason for doing it.
  • For Tom, he says that the entire world could tell him he is a moron for believing that skills have utility, but because he knows it is real for him, nothing could make him stop believing it.
  • He uses the analogy that it would be like Elon Musk worrying about what flat earthers think. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say in that regard because you know that what you are doing is undeniable.
  • On the contrary, when someone you care about tells you something you did hurt them, you pay attention to that and adjust your behavior because the person or the relationship matters to you.
  • Don’t think that there is any way to elevate yourself to a place where you don’t care about fellow humans. There will be people that you deeply care about and what they think will influence your behavior.
  • It just needs to come back to utility. What’s your goal? Is what you are doing moving you toward your goal? If it is, keep doing it no matter what anybody says. If it’s not and someone is giving you the truth even in an attempt to hurt you, still listen.
  • You can’t let people drag you down so you need to break yourself away from the emotional tie to their response, but if what they are saying is useful then you want to know about it.
  • There is value in the willingness to take risks.
  • It’s important to consider the people who will be impacted by the risks you take, e.g. spouse, children, employees.
  • Those with the strongest home life take the biggest risks. Keep the “core of care” at the center of your life strong and risk becomes relatively easier.


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@TomBilyeu & @JimKwik), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Find out more about Tom and Impact Theory, here.

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