Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

The Robert D on Living with Intensity and Purpose


I had the opportunity to ask The Robert D. Smith about his thoughts on making a difference right where you are. I am excited to share the interview with you. I loved his book 20,000 Days, and his enthusiasm is contagious!

I’d love to give away a free copy of his book to one of my readers. Just leave a comment below to be entered to win. Enjoy this great advice from The Robert D!


Tammy: You have a contagious enthusiasm. Have you always been that way, or has it been something you’ve grown into?

Robert D: To an extent I’ve always been that way, but it’s also something I’m very intentional about doing. Most people will never get a standing ovation in their lifetime, no matter how outstanding they are at what they do. I aim to give people their own “standing ovation” on a daily basis.


Tammy: You challenge people to look at the world differently. Can you talk about how you help people understand that they matter?

Robert D: I’m going to defer to the author/speaker I’ve managed for over 30 years, Andy Andrews, for this question. He has a presentation about the “Butterfly Effect” that actually proves every single person’s life matters. Even after seeing it for years, it still amazes me every time! You can watch it on YouTube here.


Tammy:  In 20k Days, you talk about how you sat down and wrote emails to people who have meant something to you. Why do you think we often neglect to tell people how important they are to us?

Robert D: We neglect to tell people how important they truly are because it’s not a normal thing to do. It’s just not something you will often think about unless you intentionally make an effort to do so.

However, when you stay focused on the things that really matter throughout the day, when you live with intensity and purpose—an awareness of the things and people that matter tends to stay at the forefront of your thinking. If you live each day as if it’s your last, you will find yourself telling people how you really feel about them much more often.


Tammy: Living counter-culturally often has its challenges. Can you talk about challenges you’ve faced while living a more purposeful life?

Robert D: You have to make sacrifices. When your friends call on Saturday night, you can’t always go to the movie or the football game. Many people will not understand this. They will look at you funny. They will say you work too much. But when you’re working on something that really matters to you, and you know it is valuable to the rest of the world, you can’t help it!


Tammy: What would you say to someone who doesn’t feel like they can make a difference right where they are?

Robert D:  I would say they are probably missing sooooo many chances to make a difference on a daily basis because they have confused “making a difference” with “affecting millions of people.” The reality is that you do not have to be in front of audiences or on TV to make a difference. You don’t have to have a blog with 100,000 subscribers to make a difference. And if you’re waiting until you do have one of those things before you really start trying to make a difference, you’re going to waste so many opportunities you had to positively affect the people in your life right now.


Tammy: In the book, you say ” we do choose how we will live.” Many people think they don’t have a choice. What advice would you give them?

Robert D: I would say that, in many cases, they are correct! You DON’T get to choose where you’re born, you DON’T get to choose who your parents are, you DON’T get to choose what kind of home you grow up in, you DON’T get to choose your race, you DON’T get to choose how long you will live.

But despite all of that uncertainty, you really do get to choose HOW you will live. You choose whether to smile or frown. You choose how you treat other people and the impact you have on their lives. You choose every day to grow or stay the same. You may not control your circumstances, but you do control how you respond to them. And that is an empowering feeling.


Tammy:  Your message fits right in line with the message I continually try to encourage in others. You can make a difference right where you are. What do you think holds people back from believing that?

Robert D: Most people just don’t believe they’re capable of doing something great. They think they don’t have a “talent” when, most of the time, they really just haven’t figured out what that talent might be yet!

Finding out what your talent or what that one thing you’re meant to do is a process most people never go through. Shortly after I finished college, I read a book that said I should write down the things I would do if time and money weren’t a factor in order to find out what I should do for a living. So I made a list of things I really liked doing:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Traveling
  • Doing mailouts—at the time I was doing these frequently for a Sunday school class I was teaching
  • Staying at home

When I finished making the list I thought, This is ridiculous. What kind of job consists of talking on the phone, traveling, doing mailouts, and staying at home?

That’s exactly what I ended up doing when I became Andy Andrews’ manager. They were odd talents, but there was a place for them.

Schedule intense time right now to focus on the things you like doing and how you can translate them into value for others. That is how you can make an impact.


Thank you, Robert D! You are an inspiration, and have helped me learn to treasure each day, and make a difference right where I am.

What was your favorite part of the interview? Remember, I’m giving away a free copy of his book, so enter a comment to be eligible.


  1. Monica Johnson

    July 26, 2013 at 8:05 am

    “But despite all of that uncertainty, you really do get to choose HOW you will live. You choose whether to smile or frown. You choose how you treat other people and the impact you have on their lives. You choose every day to grow or stay the same.”

    I wake every morning conscious of my decision to make a choice for a spectacular day. Waking up unemployed makes this very challenging, but the days I choose to live in a positive way (which are most days) are so much easier and fulfilling than the days spent with a frown. Thank you for this interview. It’s nice to be reminded that we all make a difference.

  2. I really enjoyed the part where Robert defined the things we do control and the things we don’t. And the emphasis he put on acting now to impact people, instead of waiting for circumstances to align

  3. Wow! So many golden nuggets to take away! There were two that struck me at the core. The first ‘You chose every day grow or stay the same.’ Not only is it our choice but it also requires daily intentionality. The other is the fact that we (I) CAN make a difference by affecting just one person or situation at a time. I needed that today! Thank you!

  4. troy mc laughlin

    July 26, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Nice job Tammy enjoyed the interview. Making a difference to one is as just as important than to many. That’s a truth that we all should grasp.

  5. Robert D is awesome! Thanks for sharing Tammy :)

  6. Great interview Tammy! I love the quote, “Most people just don’t believe they’re capable of doing something great.” It’s amazing what we can accomplish with a little hard work and persistence. Thank you for sharing Tammy.

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