“Everyone needs a good coach in life,” according to our podcast guest this week.

For this Business of Functional Medicine episode, Kristen Brokaw interviewed Coach Micheal Burt to explore his perspective on becoming and staying motivated.

He applies the term prey drive—the instinctual motivation of certain animals to find, pursue and capture prey—to human behavior and motivation.

Coach Burt began his career as a basketball coach and is now an author, speaker and professional coach for multiple industries. He has clients who are the most successful preventative doctors and functional health care providers in the country.

Check out this full episode to take in empowering messages about:

  • Every individuals’ potential to express a strong prey drive
  • The parts of oneself that may need to be supported (body, mind, heart and spirit)
  • How to foster motivation on a daily basis
  • The importance of building and maintaining dynamic energy in business
  • Business coaching for preventative and functional medicine providers
  • And much, much more

Visit his website to learn more about activating the drive to pursue your goals.


Business of Functional Medicine: Activate Your Prey Drive | Ep. 302


Kristen Brokaw: What I see with doctors… They love information, but they don’t like to work on their business. That’s pretty common, and so it’s good for them to hear that every doctor needs a coach as well. So, let’s talk about what activates that prey drive in them. You talked about the three phases, but let’s really talk about how… Now, they’re like, “Fine, I need prey drive. Now what do I do about it?”

Coach Micheal Burt: Well, think of energy in three states. It’s dynamic and growing, it’s static and complacent or stuck, or it’s entropic, it’s disintegrating. Those are the three states of energy we live in. And when we stop growing, we start dying. So, a business is very much the same way. It’s dynamic, it’s static or it’s entropic. And so, when you think about a practice or something, it’s one of these three states. So, how do we activate this drive in a person to want it to stay dynamic?

James Maskell: Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast, the place health professionals come to hear from innovators and agitators leading the charge. We cover the latest clinical breakthroughs in health technology, as well as practical tools to help you transform your practice and the health of your community. This podcast is brought to you by the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center, who provide a range of options to help you deliver successful, effective functional and integrative medicine. To find out more and to get started, go to goevomed.com/lmrc. That’s goevomed.com/lmrc.

Kristen Brokaw: Well, hello, Coach Burt, thank you for joining me today.

Coach Micheal Burt: Hello, nice to be with you. Good to see you again.

Kristen Brokaw: Yes, you as well. Why don’t we go ahead and tell everyone a little bit about yourself? I know you’re a women’s basketball championship coach. You’ve written, I think you said 17-plus books. And you’re really someone who’s probably the best at cultivating prey drive in people. So, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Coach Micheal Burt: Thank you, and thanks for having me today, and it was such a delight to see you in California. You’re a shining star, so good for you. I was a basketball coach for about 13 years, from when I was 19 years old to 31 years old. And I became a head coach at 22 years old at a really big high school in Tennessee, and I was fascinated by how to take people and get maximum performance out of them. I was fascinated by taking people with some knowledge and some skill and some desire and some confidence and absolutely maximizing their potential. And in the early days, I didn’t call it prey drive, I called it inter-engineering, I called it competitive intelligence, I called it… So, I became known for those things. And so, my team naturally started to win, and the more we won, the more people wanted to know what I was doing to win.

So, I started writing books, and I said, “I don’t have time to explain it, so why don’t I just write a book about it? And people can read the books.” And I really didn’t think that much about it to be honest with you. I just kept coaching, and one book turned into two and two turned into three. And the next thing you know, I was being asked by companies—pretty well-known companies, Dell computers, State Farm Insurance, National Healthcare. I was being asked to speak. So, they would say, “Will you come speak to my people?” And they would use very basic terms like motivate, and I would go over and speak for an hour and say, “Thanks for buying the book, and good luck to you.”

And then they started saying, “Will you come back and coach our people?” And I go, “What does that look like?” And they said, “Well, we want you to come back on a regular basis and teach us how to win the way you’re winning championships.” And so, that really got my attention, and at 31 years old, after building a national championship team, I retired from athletic coaching to coach business people. And in the beginning, Kristen, it was all corporate. Corporations would bring me in, they would give me a big sales number to hit and I would go in and help them create that number just by maximizing the performance of their players.

Kristen Brokaw: Well, that’s something in your book. So, your recent book called Flip the Switch, where you talk about activating this prey drive in people. You start out the book in saying most people are not living up to their potential, and you go into the concept of prey drive. So, do you want to start there and tell everyone how you came up with that and what that is?

Coach Micheal Burt: Well, prey drive is prevalent in an animal, P-R-E-Y, D-R-I-V-E. An animal has a prey drive, which is the animal’s instinct to pursue. If you see dogs chasing things, if you see the lion going into the jungle, so the whole family can eat. And I heard a Vietnam veteran who was in the war dog division of the Vietnam War talking about this concept. He just had him and a dog, and their job was to go ahead of the infantry. And the dog’s job was to sniff out bombs, booby traps, ambushes, and he kept talking about the dog’s prey drive. And I thought, “Man, this is an interesting concept,” and my gift is the gift of association. I can hear a concept, I can deconstruct that concept, I can break it down, and then I can apply it in a way that people get.

So, I really have a gift of packaging concepts. And so I go, “That’s a concept,” and I looked it up, and I noticed that nobody was talking about prey drive in humans, just in animals. And I go, “Maybe this is what I’ve been doing my whole life, which is activating this drive to pursue,” and then I started giving definitions to it. Pursue what? Opportunity, pursue potential, pursue sales, pursue whatever it is that you see in your mind or in your imagination. And so, I started codifying it, breaking it down, developing a theory of motivation. There’s 20 theories of motivation. This would be my theory of motivation is that everybody has this drive. It just needs to be activated. Then, there needs to be a persistence to it, and then there needs to be an intensity to it.

Kristen Brokaw: Let’s go back to the basketball team that you had. You said even other coaches were like, “What is it that you’re doing?” And, what you did is you would get these girls who maybe… You even said that you had some girls who they said, “You’re not going to want to work with her.” And you said, “Give me this child, and let me see what I can do with them.” And I just think it’s so interesting to talk a little bit about what you did to cultivate this, even in people that don’t necessarily want their prey drive cultivated.

Coach Micheal Burt: I think that everybody has potential, which is an idea of kinetic energy that is stored until activated. It’s an idea that all of us can be better today than we were yesterday. We can be better tomorrow than we are today. If you look up the definition of potential, it’s kind of an embryonic growth that we’ll be better today than we were yesterday, we’ll be better tomorrow than we are today, that we’ll never stop getting better, unless we choose to stop getting better, which is what a lot of people do. They become complacent, and I addressed that in the book. Why do people become complacent? It’s because they have satisfied needs. Satisfied needs never motivate people, only unsatisfied needs, which is why people in America become very complacent because they’ve got a good life and a good job and they make good money and they drive a good car and then they kind of lose that drive inside of them.

So, as a high school basketball coach, I went to work on all four parts of their nature: body, mind, heart and spirit. That produces four dimensions, four intelligences, four capacities: knowledge for the mind, skills for the body, desire or prey drive for the heart, confidence for the spirit. So, sometimes a player just needed confidence, which is the memory of success. Sometimes a player needed skills, sometimes a player needed knowledge, sometimes a player just needed that drive inside of them to be activated, to get them to want a better life, to want to improve. And many times for those kids, they just needed a person in their life that cared about them. They didn’t necessarily come from good families. They needed somebody who held them accountable. They needed somebody who was a disciplinarian. They needed somebody who believed in them. They needed somebody who gave them structure in their life when many of them didn’t have that structure.

Now, the interesting thing, Kristen, is you see what I do today, which is coach adults and people, and you saw me speaking in California. Adults need the exact same thing. Everything I just said is what adults need. They need discipline, they need structure, they need accountability, they need focus, they need confidence, and they need prey drive, which is just a want to get up and go get it, to pursue opportunity. And a lot of people operate in a defensive posture. They sit. They wait on something to happen. I believe objects at rest stay at rest unless acted on by an outside force.

Kristen Brokaw: This is so cool. So, let’s talk about those three phases that actually activate a prey drive because—and I want to get to this other point—we’re talking to doctors. These are not a bunch of schmucks. They are very intelligent. But something else you talk about how we’re going to activate this prey drive, and you just said, but they need coaches. And I wonder, how many of them have a coach? I know you believe everyone needs a coach, so I’d be curious to see how many doctors do you work with. What have you seen in the medical field?

Coach Micheal Burt: Well, what I’m starting to see is I coach one of the top wellness doctors in the country in Houston, Texas. He hired me to help him explain his value, improve their sales department, bring a winning mindset to their culture. So, I actually coach several doctors that are involved in preventative medicine or functional wellness, and those are typically the doctors who reach out to me. And they’re interested in expansion, they’re interested in growth, they’re interested in moving their wellness center forward, their practice forward. They’re interested in a competitive advantage just like other people are. They just seem to be more open to this. Many of them have coaches, and what we’re finding is that they need business coaches. They may need a different kind of coach to help them build, grow, scale what they’re doing, and some of those people get that, and some of those people don’t get that, but just like everybody. So, I’m starting to pick up actually more and more of those doctors.

Kristen Brokaw: I would say what I see with doctors, they love information, but they don’t like to work on their business. That’s pretty common, and so it’s good for them to hear that every doctor needs a coach as well. So, let’s talk about what activates that prey drive in them. You talked about the three phases, but let’s really talk about how… Now, they’re like, “Fine, I need prey drive. Now what do I do about it?”

Coach Micheal Burt: Well, think of energy in three states. It’s dynamic and growing, it’s static and complacent or stuck, or it’s entropic, it’s disintegrating. Those are the three states of energy we live in. And when we stop growing, we start dying. So, a business is very much the same way. It’s dynamic, it’s static or it’s entropic. And so, when you think about a practice or something, it’s one of these three states. So, how do we activate this drive in a person to want it to stay dynamic? Why do we become complacent? Because we have satisfied needs. So, when we start looking at the activators of prey drive, number one, fear is an activator of prey drive. Fear of anything, fear of loss is a big one, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment. All of these can be an activator of prey drive. Fear is your friend because it can activate.

Number two, competition is an activator of prey drive because one thing those doctors do is they want to be the best. Some of them are motivated because they want to say, “I’m the best. I am absolutely the best at what it is I do.” And they were trained to have information. They were trained to have a certain standard, to do a certain thing, to believe that they’re the best at what it is they do. So, competition is an activator of prey drive.

Number three, environment is an activator of prey drive. So, I’m in an environment where I’m growing. I’m around other people where there’s expectation, where there’s energy, where there’s motivation. It’s alive. It’s vibrant. Then, I have exposure. I see something, I’m around something. That activates my wantingness in something like, “Oh man, that’s cool. What about that or what about that?”

And, then embarrassment is actually an activator of prey drive, meaning, what if I don’t play up to my potential? What if I’m not operating at a very high level? What if there are people out there who are much better than me? So, this concept of embarrassment can actually activate the prey drive. So, those are your five activators of prey drive I talk about in the book.

Kristen Brokaw: So, let’s talk about what they can… What should they be asking themselves? And is this one of my key activators?

Coach Micheal Burt: What they should be asking theirself is, “Hey, right now my life, am I operating at every cylinder I have? Am I dynamic? Do I feel stuck, static, bored, complacent? Is my business growing? Is it dying? Do I need new energy? Is there another level of potential for me?” What they should be asking is, “Hey, when was the last time I was really clicking on every cylinder that I had, when I was really doing what it is I love doing, it was highly enjoyable, it’s highly profitable? When was I at my best as a doctor?” This is interesting because a functional doctor—75 years old in Texas—just signed up to be in my mastermind. And you know what he said? “I lost my prey drive. I need to get my prey drive back.” And what happened is he got distracted, he got involved in other things, his other businesses, and he just kind of lost some of that drive.

Kristen Brokaw: Well, it sounds like he’s interested in making it a daily habit again, and that’s something that you say it has to be activated every day. The rent is due every day. So, let’s talk a little bit about what you do with the people in your mastermind or people you coach. How do you get them to think about this every day?

Coach Micheal Burt: Well, the environment, when you’re being coached by a guy like me, there’s a lot of frequency, you’re in groups, you’re around other dynamic people. Other people are wanting to do the same thing you’re doing. They’ve got the same problems you have. So, the way I structure my coaching, there’s a lot of frequency with me. There’s something happening monthly. There’s something happening quarterly. It’s like there’s a frequency with me, which activates the prey drive through environment and exposure.

But here’s the interesting thing about prey drive: It all goes to zero at midnight. We go to bed tired; we wake up hungry. There comes a time when winter asks what we’re doing all spring and summer. It’s like that rent is due every day. You don’t wake up with the prey drive activated. You wake up, and you have to activate the prey drive, which is why in the book I talk about activating the body, the mind, the heart and the spirit. I’ve been doing this for 31 years. It’s not like I wake up in the morning always motivated. I’ll have to activate my prey drive just like everybody else does. So, what’s my cycle for doing that every day?

Kristen Brokaw: So, what is your cycle? What could someone do to motivate themselves every day?

Coach Micheal Burt: Well, the number one thing I do is I go to work on all four parts of my nature. So, in the morning I do something physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. So, think of it as you’re a whole person: body, mind, heart and spirit. Each of those parts have to be activated. So, when I wake up in the morning, it’s like, “All right, how do I activate…” So, I do something for each of those parts. How do I activate every part of my nature by 8:00 am in the morning? So, if I woke up tired, if I woke up exhausted, if I woke up with no energy, if I woke up here, now I’ve got to activate that drive every single day to go into battle.

Kristen Brokaw: I think they just need to read the book and look at some of the prompts that are in there. It really makes you think: Where am I just dialing it in? What am I fearful of? Am I fearful of not having enough money? Am I fearful of change? Am I fearful of losing my comfortable life that I’ve built? And, I would say that’s probably the biggest, like you said, how do people stay motivated when they’re comfortable?

Coach Micheal Burt: Well, I use a term called mental subtraction, and mental subtraction is where I pretend to have to give up something I love. So, I take something that I love, no matter what it is, and I go, what if I had to give that up? What if I couldn’t keep it? What if I had to sell it? What if I had to… Right? And, that very thought of that one thing activates and reactivates my drive. It’s what psychologists call mental subtraction.

Kristen Brokaw: Ooh, interesting. So, that actually brings me into the next thing. It’s something you talk about in your book is going from A to B, and A is like, where you are now and B… How often do we really do this? When I listen to you speak, I honestly have never done this. So, let’s talk about an activity that they could do just right now.

Coach Micheal Burt: Well, a simple exercise to do—it’s actually an exercise I do with pretty much everybody I coach—is, I say, “Draw a straight line between A and B. A is your current position in life, and it’s everything you don’t like about your current position in life. And B is your ideal outcome. It’s where you would like to be at some point. It could be qualitative, which means I can’t measure it, but I can feel it. It can be quantitative, which means I can measure it. My B may be my company’s doing whatever X number of millions of dollars per year. I personally earn this much in income. I live in my house in Florida 90 days out of the year. I do this… It’s your B. It could be whatever you want it to be. I spend X number of time with my kids every day. You know, it’s like whatever your ideal picture is.

Now, what does is it serves to give me clarity? Where am I going? What am I trying to do? What is a high value of my time? What is a low value of my time? What is moving me toward this ideal picture? So, that’s really the whole book, when you’re reading the book, the book is trying to get you there. It’s trying to get you from A to B, and it kind of has all these exercises where you do that. Now, I do that exercise pretty much every day. I constantly think about my B. I’m constantly in pursuit of my B. I’m constantly moving in the direction of my B, which is some ideal picture I’m trying to move toward.

Kristen Brokaw: And you also talk about something called “because goals” that you have to obviously know your why, but you call it a “because goal.”

Coach Micheal Burt: I actually think… This is a philosophical belief, but I don’t believe you have to find your why to do something big in the world. I could know my purpose and still not be motivated. I could know my purpose and still not activate my prey drive. I can know that I’m supposed to be coaching people, I can get purpose from coaching people, but wake up today and go, “Man, I don’t feel like coaching people.” So, what do I do then? See, this is why a lot of people lead you to believe if you find your why, then life’s going to take off. You’re going to have energy and motivation and it’s going to solve a lot of your problems.

Well, I can know my why and still not be motivated, so I like what’s called because goals, which are big reasons to do things when you don’t feel like it. A because goal is a deep, intrinsic motivation. It’s because somebody poured into you, because you believe something at your core, because you had a breakdown, because you had a breakthrough, because you have a conviction. See, this gets into the deep, deep intrinsic motivation you need to be great.

Kristen Brokaw: That actually ties into something you talk about towards the end of the book, which is what the top 1% of performers do. You said there’s five key things that the 1% of top performers do, and I thought it was very fascinating. So, why don’t we talk about that?

Coach Micheal Burt: I think if we’re looking at the attributes and habits of top performers, it’s helpful if we know what those are, and there’s studies that show that the top 1% of performers… This is not just the top 1% of money earners, it’s actually the top 1% of performers. So, it could be a 1% firefighter or 1% police officer, a 1% school teacher, a 1% sales rep. What they do is they have typically have five core things. They have remarkable boldness, which is a striking fearlessness. They have a deep intrinsic motivation—those are because goals.

They have connection and community. They can connect to people. They really have a heart to connect to people and serve and help people. They’ve got great connection skills. They also have grit and resilience about them, which means they just keep coming. You can’t knock them down. They find ways to win in any economy and any adversity. They just keep coming, man. And, then number five is the ability to lock in and see something through to its conclusion. They are not easily distracted away from their big goals, and they just keep focused on a target. And if you look at the top 1%, those are the habits and attributes of those performers.

Kristen Brokaw: I feel like that can apply to providers so much, especially with remarkable boldness. I’m sure many times they don’t say the things to the patient that maybe they really need to say, and I almost feel like this is giving them permission that this is what the top 1% do. And like you said, intrinsic motivation, that’s their creating that B goal, understanding why are you going from A to B and really locking in and seeing something through to the end. I know a lot of them kind of get started, but not… And everybody, so even providers, myself included, we don’t always finish. And I think, like you said, having that because goal is really what… You’ve said in the book, something like amateurs… What did you say about amateurs?

Coach Micheal Burt: Amateurs listen to their feelings. Professionals do not listen to their feelings.

Kristen Brokaw: They don’t listen to their feelings.

Coach Micheal Burt: The professional doesn’t feel like doing something they have to do. I was doing TV shows yesterday, Kristen, and it’s not my favorite thing to do. I don’t mind getting dressed up and wearing a suit and being on television, but it’s a lot of hurry up and wait. You get all dressed up, and you’re on for three or four minutes, and they ask you the same questions. But it is a necessary part of building a brand, becoming mainstream in America, and it shocked me how people look at just being on television, like what a big deal it is to people to be on television. And to me it’s like, it’s just a necessary thing you have to do. It’s not something I really enjoy, but the way the world looks at it, if you’re on a major TV show, then you’ve made it.

That’s how the world looks at it, and so, everybody has to do things that they don’t always enjoy, if they’re trying to get to B. And if you notice in the book, I said the word passion can mean to suffer it. It can mean to sacrifice because I want something, right? For me to help more people, I have to be more known in the world, and to be more known in the world, one of the things you have to do is do television. And so it’s just one of those things that everybody… The football player doesn’t feel like getting hit that hard on Sunday. Journey doesn’t feel like singing Don’t Stop Believing again, I’m sure. The doctor may not feel like hearing the same things over and over and over, the same complaints that people have, or the same things that people say when they come in, but it’s just a necessary part of moving from A to B and really helping a lot of people.

Kristen Brokaw: All that said so perfectly, and I just love it because it really gives you permission to say, “Ah, I’m being a pro. I’m just going to buckle down and be a pro.” So, how could people work with you? You said you work with doctors. How could they work with you if they choose?

Coach Micheal Burt: They just go to my website at coachburt.com. I actually have three doctors in my mastermind right now, which is on What’s Next. Many of them want to package their method or methodology. They may want to go mainstream with it. They may want to become people of interest in the world. So, that’s kind of a specialty of mine, of helping successful people become more known in the world and become what I call people of interest. I wrote a book on that called Person of Interest many years ago. So, coach@coachburt.com, and then just email me, coach@coachburt.com, email me there, and we’ll just schedule a consult, see what you’re trying to do. There’s one question I’m going to ask: What are you trying to do? And once they tell me, “This is what I’m trying to do,” I go okay, “Based on my 31 years of experience, this is how I can help you.” I’m kind of a doctor to them, and I listen and I prescribe, and based on a lot of experience, I have coached some of the most successful doctors in the country.

Kristen Brokaw: Oh, that’s awesome, and we all could use it, especially now that people are getting back in the game. Now that this pandemic is over, let’s go out and get it. Well, thank you so much, Coach Burt. I appreciate your time and I look forward to watching the greatness and prey drive that you build in the world. Thank you.

Coach Micheal Burt: Thank you so much for having me, and like I said, you really stand out. You’re a shining star, so thank you for having me.

Kristen Brokaw: Well, thank you.

James Maskell: Thanks for listening to the evolution of medicine podcast. Please share this with colleagues who need to hear it. Thanks so much to our sponsors, the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center. This podcast is really possible because of them. Please visit goevomed.com/lmrc to find out more about their clinical tools like the group visit toolkit. That’s goevomed.com/lmrc. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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