For more than two decades,Sandy Gallagher led a stellar career in the top echelons of banking law, advising boards and top executives of Fortune 50 firms and handling billions of dollars in major mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, and other such big-ticket transactions. She was the veritable poster child for success in the classic corporate mold. And then, in 2006, something happened that rocked Sandy’s world: she heard Bob Proctor speak. By the time Sandy walked out of the seminar she’d innocently agreed to attend, her life path had been forever transformed. Before long she was CEO of Bob’s nineteen-company enterprise, LifeSuccess and created a breakthrough twelve-DVD program called Thinking Into Results. Hers is an astonishing odyssey—and it all started, says Sandy, by asking herself a simple question: what do I want to do with my life? — J.D.M.
Where did you start out?
I was born in Sunnyside, Washington, a little farm town in Washington state. My dad was a banker turned banking lawyer, and I really admired him. As my mom tells it, by the age of three I had decided I was going to be a banking lawyer.
Really! [laughs] Not your everyday when-I-grow-up ambition.
I went to the Columbia School of Law at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and graduated Phi Beta Kappa undergrad, the #1 graduating student in banking law in the United States. In terms of where to go to work, I had my pick of law firms.
I started out with a Wall Street firm and worked with some of the largest investment banks and financial institutions in the world for a while, and then went back to Washington state to practice law with my dad in Seattle, where we worked with community banks of all sizes. I did bank mergers-and-acquisitions and public company work, IPOs and that kind of thing, and also ran a financial practices group.
All in all, I practiced law for nearly twenty-two years.
Until August 18, 2006, when I went to a Bob Proctor seminar in Vancouver, Washington—and had my mind completely blown.
How did you end up in that room in the first place?
[laughs] That’s a good question. It was one of Bob’s Science of Getting Rich seminars. A friend had presented it to me as a “leadership training seminar,” and that sounded good to me.
Of course, what I had in mind was a completely traditional, mainstream sort of business leadership training, not anything to do with personal development. You can imagine what was going on in my mind the first few hours of that seminar.
[laughs] Yes: “Why are they all speaking Chinese”?
I had a bachelor’s degree and a Juris Doctorate, but I’d never heard ideas like these. I can’t even tell you how much it blew my mind.
At the same time, on a heartfelt, subconscious level, it all really resonated. Something came alive in me.
One of the messages Bob was enunciating was, “What do you really want? You’ve got to go for something huge, something that inspires you tremendously. You’ve got to get yourself out of the way and focus on how you can help others.”
I was utterly fascinated. What did I really want?
By the end of that first evening, my mind was transporting me back through two decades in boardrooms and executive offices, and I could see all these brilliant people getting stuck, reacting instead of responding, competing instead of creating, thinking about lack and limitation instead of abundance, and really having no idea what they truly wanted.
It all just clicked, like a huge puzzle coming together, and I understood what was happening in all those situations. I thought, “Now I’m in a position where I can help.”
I’ll never forget that moment. I can describe in exact detail the chair I was sitting in, the table, everything in the room. It was transformational—a total epiphany.
When you walked out of that room, what did you do?
It was a Friday night. I couldn’t sleep, because my mind was going a hundred miles an hour, thinking about how I could do everything in a bigger and more effective way.
The thing was, I was already winning. I was very well-respected in my industry. I was at the top of the pack in my field, making great money, had great friends, a beautiful home. But now I realized I was just scratching the surface of what I could do.
Instead of thinking about how I could bring in work for my practice group of twenty-odd lawyers, I was thinking, “How can I help thousands or even millions of people? How can I help the world?”
On Sunday night, after the whole seminar was over, I sat down and wrote, “I want to create a program with Bob Proctor to bring in the corporations. I want to be in the inner circle of life success. I want to be Bob Proctor’s closest advisor.” I wrote it in teeny, tiny print—
Thinking, “Maybe no one will see this...”
Exactly! And then I immediately thought, “Who do you think you are? You’re just a lawyer! And besides, what do you want to go do that for? You’ve got it good now!”
But I promised myself that, no matter what, I wouldn’t leave those ideas in that seminar room. That I would create a program with Bob Proctor to bring in the companies I’d been in over all those years and help people get the results they wanted—and how to tap into the higher side of their personality, be creative beings, and have a great life.
So you’re a perfect test case: Here you are, in this room, having all these thoughts. What did you do to turn those thoughts into actual results in the world?
First I made the decision—I really made the decision.
Bob talked about going for a goal that is way beyond you. Well, this goal was way beyond where I was. I merged banks, for goodness sakes. How was I going to produce a leadership program—and not just a program, but something top executives would feel proud to have on their shelves, the most transformational leadership program of its kind?
Before I left that seminar room, I decided I was willing to do whatever it took, as long as it was moral, legal, and ethical, to make this happen.
I got every CD or DVD program Bob had, signed up for his year-long coaching program, became a consultant in the LifeSuccess companies, and got certified to teach all the programs. I studied it all, thoroughly, like a scientist. And then I started putting together the new program I wanted to create—and this was long before I had any kind of agreement with Bob to do this.
Was there a distinct point where you let go of all the bank and corporate work you were involved in?
Actually, when I created the Thinking Into Results program, and even after I had taken over as CEO of the entire LifeSuccess group of nineteen different companies, I was still practicing law full time.
Oh, I see! [laughs]
It was pretty funny. We’d be in meetings, talking about LifeSuccess and Thinking Into Results—and my Blackberry would go off and I’d switch to law. It was like that for nearly three years.
When did you let go of the banking law career?
I talked with Bob about it, saying, “I’m having a real challenge letting go of everything I created over the past nearly twenty-two years.”
And Bob said, “You’re not giving anything up. You’re taking all this wonderful stuff that you’ve created and expanding it into a brand new industry.” That totally shifted my thinking on it.
I told myself that when my new income matched my income as a lawyer, I would close the law practice. Yet even after I had long gone past that point, I still hadn’t done it.
One day Bob came to me and said, “Sandy, what are you doing?”
“What do you mean?” I said.
And he said, “Are you in or are you out?”
I proceeded to tell him why I could keep doing my law practice and the LifeSuccess companies at the same time. He just gave me a look—and I thought, “Ohmigosh, he’s so right.”
So I wrote an email to my 2,000 clients and colleagues, telling them I was closing my law practice and getting into this new industry, and why. I went to press send on the email ... and I couldn’t do it!
I called Bob and told him I had this email all queued up, and he says, in this booming voice, “Hit send! You’ll develop wings along the way—hit send!”
So I did. You know you hear that “whoosshhhhh” sound when the email goes out? I’ll never forget that sound. I went to the out box to make sure it had gone, and sure enough, it had. And I thought, “Ohmigosh, I can’t take it back.”
Within twenty-four hours I got 892 emails back saying, “Oh my gosh, I wish I could do that!”
When was this, by the way?
May 14, 2009.
I had a feeling you would know the exact date. Not quite three years from the day you walked into that seminar.
And I am so grateful I did it.
It can be a daunting thing, any time we do something new and feel like, “Wow, am I really just going to start all over again?” A lot of people in my environment were saying, “Are you crazy? You’re never going to get good clients like that again! How can you let go of that profit-sharing plan?”
But Bob was right; it’s not really starting over, because everything we’ve learned and done adds on to what we bring to the table in the next thing we’re creating.
The life of an entrepreneur often involves what we conventionally call “failures.” But it’s really like plowing old crops into the soil. They’re not “failed” crops, they’re part of new soil and new growth.
Yes, and every time you get it wrong, it’s one step closer to getting it right. As Napoleon Hill says, that’s one of the keys of the most successful people: they just won’t give up.
You can’t give up on a goal. You can change your plans and move the deadline for your launch, but you can’t let go of the goal if it’s something you really love.
And it’s important that it be something you really love. When you’re in love, you don’t have to write yourself a sticky note to remind you, “Think about Harry.” You just think about him.
That’s what starting a business has to be like. Something you love so much that it’s in your mind all the time, it’s an obsession.
Here’s the definition of an obsession: a disturbing persistent preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea. That may not sound so great—but that’s exactly what you want! It’s unreasonable in the eyes of others, but not in your eyes. Logic dictates what is reasonable, and when you’re going for a huge goal, it’s way beyond logic.
That was my mantra for the first year: “Do what’s illogical.” [laughs] For a lawyer to have that as a mantra was really crazy!
What was the core idea of that program you wanted to create—and what has happened with it since then?
It has grown way beyond where I ever thought it would. Today we have consultants who sell and facilitate this program in ninety-four countries all around the world.
The program’s objective is to get people to think in a different way, to move beyond a paradigm of lack and limitation to one of abundance, and to learn to respond instead of reacting, to be creative instead of competitive, and to think about goals in a different way.
Instead of having something you put on your list and then check off, instead of saying, “Okay, we raised revenue by ten percent,” it’s going after something that truly inspires you.
We can all do so much more than we’re doing. As Bob says, we’re spiritual beings, and spirit is always looking for expansion and fuller expression. We always want more and bigger and better—and it’s not that we’re going after more material things, it’s that the spiritual side of us wants to express itself in a bigger and better way.
So what’s holding us back? Why do so few people truly win in a big, big way?
For 97 percent of us, our habitual way of thinking in our subconscious mind isn’t geared to get us the results we want. It’s that deep-seated thinking that the emotional part of our personality is engaged in, that triggers images in our mind and sets up a vibration within us and moves us into actions that move us toward everything in harmony with those images.
This is an orderly universe, and when we put certain images in our mind and get emotionally involved with those images, that will invariably bring us results that resonate with those images. These are universal laws of a very orderly universe.
Von Braun, the father of the space program, talked about universal laws. He said, we can build a spaceship and send a man to the moon and time the landing with the precision of a fraction of a second—and we couldn’t do that without some power out there greater than us that’s dictating these precise universal laws.
So you’re still a lawyer, just dealing with a different level of law.
That’s right! [laughs] Much different.
In the years since The Secret came out, the big criticism you hear is that people seemed to miss the whole element of right action in the whole law-of-attraction process.
The Secret was great for what it set out to do, but it did miss the element of action.
You can’t just sit there thinking these great ideas. As Bob says, “Some people become so heavenly that they do no earthly good.”
Doing goal-achieving activities every day is a big part of the process. You have to get out there and do a minimum of six goal-achieving activities a day—that’s a minimum. Then that night, write out at least six goal-achieving activities you’re going to do the next day.
And these aren’t clean-your-desk, go-through-the-mail actions. These are activities that are tangibly going to bring you toward your big goals.
If you’re an entrepreneur, every morning when you first get up ask yourself, “What can I do today to make the world more aware of my talent and ability? What can I do with that talent and ability today to help others?”
When we’re doing goal-achieving activities and staying focused on helping others, we can’t help but win.
Sandy as CEO of LifeSuccess with Bob Proctor.
In the phrase “thinking into results,” the into is where the action is. But people sometimes step over that and just focus on the two big nouns, thinking and results.
Exactly! At the same time, for the most part we don’t really know how to think.
How many people do you think understand this idea of creating an image in your mind and getting emotionally involved with it, tapping into our intellectual faculty of imagination to bring us the results we want? We should be taught this as children.
I went to law school to learn how to think, but even there, I wasn’t taught how to really think. When I would go back and talk to my law colleagues about this, they would wonder if I’d fallen out of a tree.
What kinds of clients does your program have? Is it aimed at corporate clients? Big firms, small firms? Entrepreneurs?
It’s all over the board. We have large companies, small companies, start-ups, entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting companies.
At first I wanted to find the niche this would work best for, and I designed the program for corporations because that was my background. Then we took a few thousand people on a cruise and played the pilot DVD for them—and the kids were fascinated by it. Now we have kids and families using it.
Bob did a program with fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds. Over twelve weeks, he taught them how to think in a different way, thinking into results and not letting the outside world control us. At the end, these teenagers each gave a speech to an audience of more than a thousand adults, and I saw a lot of them taking notes on what these kids were teaching them.
One young girl dropped her notes just as she was getting up to speak. At first she got flustered, trying to sort out all the papers—and then she got up and said, “Forget it. I don’t need the notes anyway,” and she delivered her whole message without any notes. And she absolutely blew them away.
What’s so great is that these kids don’t have to unlearn things the way adults do, so it’s easier for them to pick it up.
You’ve said that the way you market yourself today is completely different than it used to be. How is it different?
I’d been involved in marketing for years. When I ran the Financial Institutions Practices Group, we had to market ourselves. But when I started getting into this new way of thinking, everything about how I approached marketing changed.
It started with taking a long, hard look at who I truly was. That might sound odd, but that’s the biggest key to winning at anything: becoming aware of what a valuable asset we are as an individual—to our family, our company, our community. Most of us are simply not aware of the power we have inside of us.
Bob quotes the late J. B. Rhine, from Duke University, “The mind is the greatest power in all creation.”
That’s where marketing ourselves starts: by understanding ourselves.
You can have two individuals doing the exact same things, but while one is going all over the place, zigzagging into mediocrity, the other person is shooting straight up to prosperity, happiness, and continuous growth. Why? Because they may be doing the same things, but they’re doing them in a different way.
It starts with becoming aware of how valuable an asset we are and how much service we can provide. Once we shift the focus from what can I get to what can I give, we suddenly see that opportunity is absolutely everywhere.
There’s always going to be a bad economy somewhere, but there doesn’t have to be a bad economy in your mind. Quit watching the news. Don’t focus on why you can’t. Focus on how you can, on being seriously creative instead of just doing the usual routine.
When you say you took a long, hard look at who you were, what did you see?
Even though I was winning in a big way, I was living a routine life. Creativity is the opposite of routine. Understanding that we are spiritual beings with unlimited possibilities shifts us into that creative state, where we start tapping into those higher faculties.
In that seminar in 2006, I felt transported mentally into a different world, into a beautiful place of freedom and creativity. When you’re talking about creativity, there aren’t any rules. If you want to do something in a different way, deliver a whole new product and be of service in a totally different way, then do it.
Do you frequently have the experience of looking at the people in the audiences and seeing culture shock on their faces?
Well, [laughs] when I get up and speak I always ask, “How many of you have never heard Bob live?” We get a lot of people who have never seen Bob live, and they get just as blown away as I did in 2006.
What I love about your background is that it underscores the point that this stuff isn’t just philosophical fluff. It’s directly and tangibly applicable to real-world activities and achievements.
I was talking with the CEO and owner of a company that encompassed thirty different multimillion-dollar operations. They were in a rough condition and he was looking at the real possibility of losing it all. He knew my background, and that I had done more than a hundred billion dollars in deals—
Excuse me, you did say “billion,” right?
When I first told Bob that, he said, “Oh, you mean a hundred million?” “No,” I said, “a hundred billion.” The first deal I ever did was $864 million. From there, you get to a hundred billion pretty fast.
Anyway, this gentleman really wanted me to give him some fancy, tricky legal maneuver he could do.
I told him, “What you want to do is, every morning think of the ten things you’re the most grateful for.”
He looked at me and said, “What?! No, I mean, what legal thing can I do?”
And I said, “Seriously. Every morning. The ten things you’re most grateful for. And then be quiet for five minutes, and ask spirit to give you guidance for the day. And then send love to those who bother you.”
I got that from Bob. When I started as CEO at LifeSuccess there were some big challenges in some of those nineteen companies, and Bob knew that with my background, I could help fix them.
At one point some of these problems were getting to me, and I asked Bob, “Can you give me three things I can do every morning that will not only enable me to deal with these situations but also become a better person in the process?”
Within thirty seconds he came up with that formula I gave this business owner.
This guy was completely skeptical—but it totally transformed everything for him, and turned things around.
Buckminster Fuller said, “To change something, don’t fight the existing reality.” If you want to change something, you have to build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.
In 2006, when I went to that first seminar, I was working on what is called a “merger of equals” between two banking companies. If there ever was a setup for the perfect merger, this was it. But the two CEOs involved didn’t understand universal laws. They each thought they were giving up their piece of the pie.
They were so focused on competition, they couldn’t see that with the two of them combining, they were creating a even bigger pie, so they both could still have had a nice, big piece. Everything was ready and we had inked the whole deal—but the two CEOs just couldn’t sign it. It never went through.
They couldn’t get themselves out of the way.
And these were Harvard and Stanford grads with multiple degrees. But it’s not intellectual knowledge that gives us the results we want.
We don’t have to live in a bad economy. We don’t have to live in a job or a relationship we don’t want to be in. We just need to get our ego out of the way, create a whole new model of how we think, and go for something that really inspires us, that we truly love, so we start operating from that creative side of ourselves.
It’s a huge shift from the usual competitive mindset of lack and limitation. So many people are afraid. We think anxiety is a disease imposed upon us—but it all starts with our thinking.
Whether you are in fear or in faith, either way, you are believing in something you can’t see. Why not choose faith?
How do you do that? By gaining an understanding of who you truly are and what you can create. Then you can be at ease and move forward creatively, instead of in doubt and worry.
I’d like to see us all being taught the laws of the universe from the time we pop out of the womb. Why not teach our children to understand who they truly are as human beings and how to tap into the higher side of their personalities?
A child can learn five languages by the time she’s five years old. Why can’t we learn this way of thinking when we’re that young?
The truth is, we can.