Talk is cheap. “Don’t tell me, show me” is something I write (or at least think) every day, especially as social media swells with lots of passionate posturing, but not a whole lot of real-world doing.

But talk is also incredibly powerful. A simple conversation, with the right person at the right place and right time, can change the course of your life immeasurably.

I figured this out in my 20s and over the years have tried to “seek out” these conversations. Determine who the authorities or “influencers” are in whatever I was passionate about about and then pay them for a few minutes of their time.

I had the good fortune to have A few such conversations with coach Charles Poliquin, who passed away a few weeks ago.

I knew Charles for 20 years, which means I knew his many faults, his temper, his propensity for bullshitting, and his “less than collegial” demeanor on social media.

But I was also witness to his genius. And he WAS a genius, though in a very specific way.

He could detect weaknesses in an athlete very quickly and adjust programming accordingly.

He could determine whether an athlete responded best to volume, intensity, or variety, and when to back off or double-down. This is something I took and applied to general population clients and continue to use every day.

Above all he could cut through bullshit and solve problems, which is what he did for me about 10 years ago.

I told him I was “leaving him.” Training elite athletes wasn’t my goal nor was being a strength coach for a junior hockey team. “I just want to help normal people look and feel awesome,” I said.

He stopped for a full second (I thought he was going to “ask” me to go fuck myself on my way out) and then unloaded.

(I’m paraphrasing grossly):

“The average person, as in 99% of the population?

“They care about being lean. If they’re smart they care about being healthy and strong too but most just want to look good.

“So I would learn everything about getting someone lean and make it the focus while getting them healthy and strong as a bonus.”

“Next, I would get myself lean because how you look is a powerful marketing tool. Getting lean boils down to discipline, dedication, and problem solving. You need to live it before you can teach it.

“Most importantly, since most of the population has a fucked up lifestyle, I would learn everything about solving those problems.

“Can you help fix someone’s sleep, reduce their stress, make nutrition simpler and easier to follow. Get their spouse to support it. Help their kids eat better.

“Learn how to listen to a client and what to listen for, especially lifestyle problems.

“With men you’ll need a jackhammer to get at this information. Women, however, will tell you everything — if they know you’re listening.

“A woman who can afford your services is usually married to an asshole that ignores them (his words exactly). So hear them out and don’t judge them.

“You know how to write a basic program. Now go learn that.”

That advice changed my career immeasurably. And while it didn’t lead to any “7 figures in 7 days” nonsense, it put me on a 10-year path to where I am today: able to affect positive, real-life change in real-life people.

All thanks to one crucial conversation.

So perhaps not all talk is cheap?