Arch MI

Season 3, Episode 5: The 4 A Formula

January 12, 2022


Welcome to the Arch MI Podcast, featuring our senior customer trainer, Blaine Rada. Arch Mortgage Insurance company, or Arch MI, is a leading provider of mortgage insurance or MI in the United States. Our competitive pricing tool, Arch MI Rate Star, is the leading risk-based pricing platform in the industry providing rates based on a thorough understanding of the underlying risk. Here's your host, Blaine Rada.

Blaine Rada: [00:00:33] Welcome to the podcast. My name is Blaine Rada with Arch MI. I really appreciate you taking time to invest in yourself and I promise not to waste your time. My intent is to help you separate and differentiate yourself from the competition. And I do this by sharing my perspective and experiences from doing this work for over 30 years. Like the previous two seasons of this podcast, I plan to be unscripted and conversational, which means I’m never quite sure what I'm going to say or how long it will take me to say it. However, I would like season three to be a little different, perhaps with shorter episodes and an even easier to implement ideas. We’ll see if that actually happens. So, let’s get to it.

I’m pretty confident that today’s episode will be a little bit on the shorter end just because of the nature of what I'm going to be sharing with you. And it's not as complex and detail oriented as many that I do. I find it interesting that people have t-shirts of either places or events that they didn't actually ever experience themselves. I mean, I kind of look at t-shirts that highlight something as being something that only the people who've experienced it should be able to have. But anybody can buy a t-shirt. Right. I mean, you can go online and probably find a t-shirt that says I love Paris, even if you've never been to Paris. I think the best shirts are the ones that actually you can't buy. In fact, you have to earn it. The only way to get your hands on the shirt is to earn it. I actually have a shirt like that and I was going to wear it today. It's actually one of my favorite t-shirts. I've owned it for a long time and I only wear it like very, very rarely actually. So it's still in terrific shape. And I was going to wear it today to kind of inspire me as I was recording this podcast. Um, but I put it on and I don't know what happened, but it seems like it's shrunk. It seems like the shirt got smaller. And then I thought, well, maybe I just got more muscular. Like maybe over time, I've actually gotten bigger and the shirt stayed the same. And then I realized, well, I don't think you actually get more muscular, like in your belly area, do you? Like that's not an area where you build muscle. So I thought, well, I really need to be comfortable when I'm recording a podcast, I need to be able to breathe properly and feel comfortable. So I am wearing a different shirt that's an event that I experienced, that I enjoy. But it's not this particular shirt, the one that I wanted to wear today. And I'll just describe the shirt for you a little bit. It's green in color. And across the back of the shirt, kind of like along the area of your shoulder blades in big yellow letters is the word finisher. And it’s a shirt that I got many years ago when I completed an ironman triathlon. Now, if you're not familiar with an ironman triathlon, it's basically a multi-sport event that involves swimming, biking, and running, sequentially all on the same day. And the ironman in particular is about a two and a half mile swim followed by a bike ride of about 112 miles. And then a full marathon of 26 miles that you run as if your legs aren't already tired enough. From a physical standpoint, athletically speaking, it certainly is probably one of my proudest accomplishments. And so I really cherish this shirt because it's not something that you could buy, you had to actually earn it. But do not be impressed by the fact that I've completed an ironman triathlon. I mean, athletically, I'm really very average. But I'm tenacious. I won't stop and I know how to train. I know how to prepare myself for whatever kind of crazy nutty thing I've decided I want to do. In fact, to kind of demonstrate that I'm not really tough at all, I'm not really that strong or that tough of a person, several years ago my wife and I, within a span of 10 days, we're going to become emptinesters. Both of our children were going to be leaving the nest within about a 10 day period. Our son was going off to graduate school and our daughter was going to finish her undergrad schooling. And so we decided it would be this fun ritual where we would all go, all four of us would go and get tattoos. Not like matching tattoos, we would each get whatever kind of tattoo we wanted, but it would be this thing that we would all experience together. Now, my wife and daughter had already gotten tattoos before. And so they were familiar with what that's all about. My son and I on the other hand, had never gotten a tattoo. And so it was completely foreign. I think I was the only one of the four of us that actually passed out while I was getting my tattoo. I remember vividly I was trying to breathe and deal with the pain and discomfort of getting the tattoo. My wife says that she remembers because she was kind of watching me the whole time. There was this moment in time where all of the color in my face completely left. In other words, I became as white as a white sheet. And then I lost consciousness literally for just a couple of seconds. And then she said the color came rushing back into my face as I woke up from my little nap. And interestingly enough, after I woke up from my little nap, I was fine as far as the discomfort and the pain. And the tattoo artist, now, she might've just been saying this to be kind, but obviously she’s done probably thousands of these. She's experienced probably any kind of person you could imagine in the chair. She said it's actually very common that it happens much more often with men, that men are the ones that lose consciousness instead of women. And that after they've taken this little two second snooze they're fine and that their body is much more able to handle the discomfort. So, I don't know what that's all about, but it certainly didn't show a lot of toughness. And so that became part of the bonding experience with the family. But, you know, aren't we really all just kind of ordinary people yet we're trying to do extraordinary things. You know, we're trying to either live an extraordinary life or accomplish extraordinary things, or do things in an extraordinary way. But in reality, we are all just kind of ordinary, right. There aren't that many of us who are truly extraordinary people. 

[00:07:07] And so goal setting, doing extraordinary things has always been something that really interests me. And so I've come up with a formula and as most formulas go that I've come up with, they are in hindsight. It's like, I wish I would've known the formula before I actually tried to use it. But it's in looking back at things like my ironman experience, where I can put pieces together in hindsight and figure out, wait a minute, there was a formula for being able to achieve what I consider to be extraordinary. And the formula is very simple. It's four As. And it's basically the idea that attitude plus aptitude plus action equals achievement. So when you're looking to achieve a particular thing and maybe that bar is very high, or maybe that bar is not that high, that you have to jump over, it's really going to come down to your attitude and your aptitude and your actions. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

[00:08:17] So I want to apply that formula to a more recent event that I participated in, known as the Tough Mudder. You may be familiar with what a Tough Mudder is, but just in case you're not, it's basically a 10 to 12 mile obstacle course. And so the Tough Mudder that I did in the Chicago area was 11 miles. Now running 11 miles as someone who has been a runner for most of his adult life, that in and of itself was something that was easy enough to train for. I wasn't intimidated about running 11 miles. But what was different about a Tough Mudder is it's not just about covering 11 miles, there were over 20 obstacles that you had to navigate on this course. And these obstacles were actually designed by British special forces. Now you could say that doing something like that would require strength and stamina and mental toughness. So, why would I do that? I mean, don't I already have the shirt? Don't I already have with my iron man shirt, the fact that I've done something that required strength and stamina and mental toughness. So, why would I do something like the Tough Mudder? Well, for a couple of reasons, one was, some of the proceeds from that event goes to support the wounded warrior project. And I wanted to be a part of something that was supporting the wounded warrior project. And also what intrigued me about the Tough Mudder was that you can't actually accomplish it by yourself. Now, if you do it by yourself, which I did, you're going to have to work with strangers, with people that you don't know to actually overcome these obstacles. For instance, there's one obstacle known as the Berlin Wall, which is basically a nine foot wooden wall. Well, I don't know about you, but there's no way I can scale a nine foot wall. Someone's going to have to boost me up. Right. So I'm going to have to step on somebody to get myself up to a point where I can grab a hold of something that's nine feet up and pull myself over to the other side. And so I was intrigued with this idea that, you know, as someone who's been a runner my whole adult life, it's never about teamwork when you're a runner. It's about me versus the clock. And yet there's no clock in a Tough Mudder. There's no finishing time. There's no ranking of where you finished compared to other people. It's basically get through the thing and don't leave anybody behind. Don't leave your Mudders out on the course. Make sure that you're working together to get everybody to finish. And those really intrigued me. So, let me apply this formula of attitude and aptitude and actions to my experience with the Tough Mudder. 

[00:11:05]  And of course attitude, I mean, it kind of goes without saying, right. I mean, to achieve anything significant, anything that might be difficult that you haven't achieved before you've got to have the right mindset, right. You've got to have a positive outlook for instance. Now I had my doubts about the obstacle portion of the Tough Mudder. I certainly had some concern about what those would be. And I knew that you didn't have to do them all. I mean, you could walk around them or skip them or you can kind of do whatever you want, but I'm the kind of person that tries to go all in. And so I had some doubts, but I certainly had a positive attitude. I certainly went into it thinking that this was going to be a good experience and that I was going to do okay. And they actually did a great job of firing everybody up. You know, they had someone who was kind of the cheerleader, so to speak, that got up high where everybody could see him and got people chanting and jumping and fist pumping. So, I mean, literally when the gun went off, it was like hundreds of warriors being sent off into battle and everybody was just practically screaming and couldn't wait to get at it. And that energy and that enthusiasm and that passion, that's really what I'm talking about with attitude. Your energy, your enthusiasm, your passion, in my tough Mudder experience that lasted until the first obstacle, until the very first obstacle. And I'm going to try to describe these as I mentioned a couple of these obstacles and I'm actually going to use what the Tough Mudder organization calls them. These are not my words. But the first obstacle was known as Arctic Enema. Well, now there is a visual for you, right? Arctic enema. So what I'd like you to just envision is something like a garbage dumpster, right? Something, a container about the size of a garbage dumpster that's basically filled with 35 degree water and has big chunks of ice floating in it. And so you have to not only jump into this 35 degree water dumpster, but you have to completely submerge yourself because you basically have to kind of swim underneath a board that's been placed in the middle of it in order to get to the other side. So after the very first obstacle, I am completely soaked. I am freezing cold. And I don't know if you've ever experienced this before, but what happens to you when you are in 35 degree water is that nothing happens because your muscles basically seize up. Your muscles basically stop working and it becomes hard to breathe. And that was just the very first obstacle. So after that, I'm still trying to keep my attitude right where it needs to be. I figured it can't get any worse than that first one. 

[00:13:48] Now aptitude is having a plan. Aptitude is doing your homework. You know, attitude is kind of how you think about what you know, but aptitude is what you know. And certainly for many goals, it's not just going to be a positive mental attitude that's going to get you to accomplish your goal. It's going to be the homework that you've done and the research that you've done and the plan that you've put together. So I knew a little bit about what some of these obstacles were and I shared some of this with my wife, as I often do. Because she doesn't necessarily understand why I do some of these crazy things, but she is supportive and I try to involve her as much as I can. And so part of my plan, part of my strategy was that I was actually not going to do the very last obstacle. The very last obstacle on the course was something that they called electroshock therapy. And I had seen videos of what this was, and I had seen a description of what this was. And both my wife and I mutually agreed, it was probably more strongly suggested by her than by me that I should not actually participate in that last obstacle. Basically, you were kind of running over these mounds of dirt. So kind of like these little teeny holes or little teeny hill. You were running over those as you were getting to the finish line, but hanging down from this structure that they had built there were these wires that had 10,000 volts of electricity running through them. And so you didn't know which wires would actually give you the jolt. But inevitably you would be running into wires that would have 10,000 volts of electricity. And I kind of thought, you know, I'm not really sure that that's a great idea. And so my intention was to walk around that one and you can imagine being the very last obstacle on the course, right. If you've gotten to that point and you're so close to the finish line, and then you choose to like I pass or like, I'm not going to do that one, that actually was kind of a difficult decision to make mentally, right. From an attitude standpoint, it was hard for me to say no to that. But I had my plan. My aptitude, my knowledge told me that that was probably not one that I wanted to do. And in hindsight, when I watched people do it, I saw people literally be rendered unconscious. I mean, I saw people faceplant themselves into the ground after getting 10,000 volts of electricity in them and thought, well, I made a really good call not to actually do that.

[00:16:15] Okay. So what's the last A? I mean, it's not just about attitude and it's not even just about aptitude. It's ultimately taking action. Any achievement requires that we actually take action and the actions have to be very specific, and the actions have to be with the intent of accomplishing your goal. And so one of the things that comes to mind when I think about action is the word resolve. And probably the best definition of the word resolve that I've ever heard is promising yourself to never give up. Promising yourself to never give up. One of the last obstacles on the course is known as Everest. And Everest is I guess they call it a quarter pike, basically a curved wall, so to speak. And the objective is that you take a run at this curved wall, this quarter pike, and you try to get yourself up high enough that the people who are up on the top and people who've already done it before you they're up at the top holding their hands and arms down so that they can hopefully grab you as you're trying to get to the top and pull you up and over Everest. This is designed for people who are light and have springs in their legs. Neither of which apply to me. But I'm trying to be a good sport about these and at least attempt every obstacle. There were certainly some that I failed at and some that I couldn't complete. But I at least want to attempt every obstacle except the last one that involves electroshock therapy. And so I took a run at this thing and I didn't get high enough to be able to reach anybody's hand. And then you come tumbling down, literally kind of falling down the thing. And I took a second run at it, and I think on my second attempt, I might've just gotten somebody's fingertips to touch my fingertips, but it still wasn't high enough that I could grab onto somebody and they could pull me up. I tried a third time, I didn't even get as high as I got the second time and came tumbling down. And I'm really getting kind of discouraged at this point because I really wanted to try to accomplish this. And I look over into the spectator gallery and my son is there. He had come to kind of cheer me on and just see what this crazy thing was all about. So I walked over to my son and I said, you know, every time I do this, I'm getting more and more tired. And I don't know that I have any more than one attempt at this left in me. I think I can just give it one more try, but I'm going to give it everything I have. I'm going to resolve to give it everything that I possibly have this one last time to see if I can get to the top of Everest. And as you can probably imagine, that was what was needed. I was able on that last attempt to get high enough that somebody could grab onto me and pull me up to the top. And then of course, I waited up at the top and helped many other people up, who had extended that same courtesy to me. Now again, don't be impressed by these physical feats that I have put myself through. They may not be anything that you would ever be interested in doing yourself. I'm simply using them as an illustration of the kind of achievement and goals that are important that we're all trying to meet. So why bother? I mean, you could say, well, why bother with doing these kinds of things that very few people might want to do, you know, can't a person just be satisfied and not have these high-level goals that they're trying to achieve? Again, it all comes back to, I think we're very ordinary people who are trying to live extraordinary lives, in our own way. However, we choose to define extraordinary. We're trying to live in an extraordinary way or accomplish extraordinary things. But when it comes down to it, we really are very ordinary. But the best t-shirts are the ones that you cannot buy. The ones that you have to earn, and every time you put it on, you can think to yourself, I got the t-shirt. I put my attitude and my aptitude and my actions together in alignment and I got achievement. I achieved something significant. I got the t-shirts. And when you do that, when you achieve something that you didn't think you could, not only do you inspire other people, the people who see what you've done and heard about it, but you inspire yourself. You inspire yourself to even try something more, something different. And I did that with a tattoo. Most recently, I got my second tattoo which was much more extensive than my first. In fact, it took three separate visits to the tattoo artist and probably about seven to eight hours in the chair getting this tattoo and I didn't pass out once. So there you have it. I have made progress with the right attitude and a little bit of aptitude and of course actions, there's no telling what you might be able to achieve. So it's a pretty simple formula, but my hope in sharing it with you was that it would inspire you and give you a structure, an easy structure to follow, to achieve whatever's important to you as well. So that is it for this episode. I actually made my commitment come to reality in keeping this a little shorter than they usually do. But again, the work is not done just because the episode is over because we think clarity leads to action, when in fact it's action that leads to clarity. We think that as soon as we've got it all figured out, we'll take action, when it's taking the action that actually helps us to figure it out. So, only when we put ideas into practice will we really understand what they mean. And so I encourage you to get the most return on the investment of time that you've put in today. Take action on something that you found valuable, put it to work. This is Blaine Rada with Arch MI, thank you for listening. 


Arch Capital Group Limited’s US mortgage insurance operation, Arch MI, is a leading provider of private insurance covering mortgage credit risk. Headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, Arch MI’s mission is to protect lenders against credit risk, while extending the possibility of responsible homeownership to qualified borrowers. Arch MI’s flagship mortgage insurer, Arch Mortgage Insurance Company, is licensed to write mortgage insurance in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit

Arch MI is a marketing term for Arch Mortgage Insurance Company and United Guaranty Residential Insurance Company. All right reserved.

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