At the 2019 BYU Marriott School Commencement, Qualtrics CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Smith said, “If you have one foot in and one foot out the door, you will never experience true happiness and fulfillment.” It is a simple sentence but it sums up the way Ryan and Ashley Smith seek to live their lives. On today’s episode, the couple shares the many byproducts they have discovered as a result of their decision to be "all in" their careers, "all in" their family, and "all in" their faith.
"Nothing I've ever done has ever been great if I haven't gone all in." -Ryan Smith
Video: BYU Marriott School of Business Convocation, Ryan Smith, 2019. See a print version of the speech at marriottschool.com.
Website for Non-Profit Co-Founded by Ryan: fiveforthefight.org
Website for Ashley's Dance Studio: smashdanceacademy.com
Quote by President Henry B. Eyring: “The Lord is anxious to lead us to the safety of higher ground, away from the path of physical and spiritual danger. His upward path will require us to climb. My mother used to say to me when I complained that things were hard, 'If you are on the right path, it will always be uphill.' And as the world becomes darker and more dangerous, we must keep climbing" (President Henry B. Eyring, "Raise the Bar," BYU Idaho Devotional, January 2005).
Quote by President Ezra Taft Benson: "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities" (President Ezra Taft Benson, "The Great Commandment—Love the Lord," General Conference, April 1988).
Quote by Brene Brown: "I thought faith would say, 'I'll take away the pain and discomfort', but what it ended up saying was, 'I'll sit with you in it" (see The Work of the People video on facebook.com).
Quote by Scott O'Neill: "How do I balance it all? Big question, a big, big question I get quite a bit. I think the question, I don't think the question is the right question because I don't think balance is something that is attainable and I don't strive for it. So what I strive to do is I strive to make sure that I know what my priorities are and my priorities are my family, my faith, and my work" (from earlier All In episode, see ldsliving.com/allin).
2:14- The Uphill
8:46- A Contrast and a Decision
14:00- What It Takes
18:46- All In on Your Career
25:46- Decision to Discipleship
31:40- Teaching Others to Go All In
38:10- All In on Your Family
41:32- What Does It Mean To Be "All In" the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones 0:00
In April 2019, Ryan Smith spoke at the BYU Marriott School's convocation and said, "Being all in is the lost art of really committing to something. Real commitment is hard. Technology and social media have raised our awareness and we live in a constant state of FOMO (fear of missing out). We live in the ultimate on-demand world––where there's always a backup plan, where there's always an off-ramp, and where commitment feels binding to a lot of people. I am here to testify that the only way to feel successful in life is to make decisions wisely, and then act on those decisions with 100% commitment." He went on to talk specifically about being all in on your career, all in on your family, and all in on your faith. Today, we dig deeper into that message with Ryan and Ashley Smith.
In 2002, Ryan Smith co-founded Qualtrics, an experience management software company. He was named to Fortune's "40 Under 40" list in 2016. And in 2018, Qualtrics was purchased in the largest private enterprise software acquisition of all time. Smith continues his position as CEO of the company, and in 2016, he co-founded "5 For the Fight," a nonprofit that encourages everyone to give just $5 in the fight against cancer. Ashley Smith found her passion for dance as a child and is now the owner of Smash Dance Academy, a dance studio she originally founded in she and Ryan's basement that has grown to have more than 600 students. She and Ryan are the parents of five children.
This is "All In," an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, "What does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?" I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so excited to have Ryan and Ashley Smith on the line with me today. Ryan and Ashley, welcome.
Ashley Smith 2:10
Hi, thanks for having us.
Ryan Smith 2:12
Yeah, we're excited to be here.
Morgan Jones 2:14
So I originally heard this talk that Ryan gave at BYU Marriott School's commencement a few months ago, as I was preparing to give a talk about being all in, and as I listened to it, I was like, first, this is money. But second, how can I get this guy on the podcast? So I'm so excited to have Ryan, but I'm also thrilled to have Ashley to provide additional insight into today's episode. Ryan, you started your talk with a quote by President Eyring where he said that his mom used to tell him, "If you're on the right path, it will always be uphill." So I'd like to kind of use that as a jumping-off point, and I wondered if you could share with us why that quote resonated with you so much and what it means to you.
Ryan Smith 3:02
Yeah, so the quote is, "If you're on the right path, it will always be uphill." You know, I think everything that I've experienced or accomplished in my life has kind of always been probably the harder path. A lot of decisions that we have, there's two paths or there's a fork in the road, and that's why it becomes a decision. For me, I'm naturally probably an individual who is always looking for the easy way out, or the easy button, and, you know, or some sort of a life hack. But if I've looked at my life, every single worthwhile thing has typically been an uphill battle, or not the natural reaction. You know, my Peloton, instructor, who I follow every morning says, you know, "If it's earned, no one can take it away from you." And I feel like the uphill stuff is the stuff that you actually have to earn. And that's, that's the good stuff. And I think for the first 18 years of my life—I'll be honest—18, 19 years, I didn't do uphills, right? It just wasn't in my playbook. And if it went uphill, or if it got too hard, I went the other way. And that's kind of been an area of my life where I try to wake up every day and tackle the hardest problem. And, you know, life's gonna give you so many uphill battles that you kind of need to get good with them. And I think sometimes we're in a phase where, if it gets tough, people just check out. And you know, as I look back, especially recently, there's been good news on the other side of that hill a lot. You know, I'm really glad I haven't given up on some of those hard times because the best things I have in my life have come out of that.
Morgan Jones 5:12
Ryan, I love that. I think that it's interesting that you mentioned, you know, before the age of 18, because I think that that's probably fairly normal that many of us don't experience a lot of hard things in our childhood or adolescence, at least hopefully. But then as we become adults, it can be a little bit of a shock that we're confronted with some really difficult things. And so I want to kind of talk about some experiences that were formative to you and your life. But before we get into that, because I've already heard you talk about what that taught you about being all in, I am curious, Ashley, what experiences you've had that have prompted you to recognize the value of being all in?
Yeah, well, kind of interestingly, I actually had some uphill battles pretty early in life.
Morgan Jones 6:07
Ashley Smith 6:08
So yeah, I was kind of young when I learned life is messy. As a child, growing up we had a divided home, and we moved to Las Vegas kind of abruptly. And I just have a very vivid memory of this feeling that I didn't have a safe place. And we were all struggling together, right? We all went through it together. But there was just this kind of icky feeling that I had for a while because of the uphill battle that I wasn't equipped with how to fight. And I really remember not wanting that feeling anymore. And I think just there were some moments in the gospel, in Las Vegas where I felt hope. And I think the hope really resonated. And it kind of led to this strong desire to find more and to maybe get some clarity or answers or kind of anything. I mean, I was really just reaching to hang on to anything, I would say. But then I found this light, and it became this happiness and this joy for me. And it really removed that icky, unsafe feeling. So at a very young age, I became intentional about the gospel because, for me, it kind of got rid of this icky thing that didn't feel great. So yeah, I just I was really young that I learned and gotten maybe even like--addicted is the wrong word--but I just desired and craved that happy, joyous feeling that I would feel at different Church things or gospel-oriented events in my life.
That's really cool. I think I've seen that I've witnessed that in some people that I know, people that have gone through really hard things, and it does seem like many times that causes them to cling to the gospel in a way, and appreciate the gospel in a way that I think few people do, and so I have always really admired that. Ryan, let's talk about, with you—so Ashley said that she, from a young age, really craved the gospel. On the other hand, when you went to Korea as a newly graduated high school student, you were not really active in the Church. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how you ended up coming back to the Church?
Ryan Smith 8:46
Yeah, I think, you know, Ashley and I both have very similar—almost eerily similar—upbringings where it was pretty messy. We both come from divided homes. We both have family members and loved ones who were in and out. You know, it was pretty tough times. And so my coping mechanisms early on were just like, "Screw everything. I'm not gonna do anything of any consequence or anything important," you know? Pretty much almost dropped out of high school-- I actually did drop out of high school for two years, and just wasn't really playing the game and wasn't all in on anything. And that was kind of my attitude.
And, you know, I decided at an early time I wanted to get out of Utah and I met some people that said, "Hey, you should go teach English in Korea." So I grabbed a couple of my buddies, we went over to Korea and everything fell apart over there. I didn't have home. My friends went home. And I was really kind of stuck over there by myself and I ended up, you know, hanging out for a couple of months with a crowd of people and it was really kind of like, "Hey, this is how life's gonna be. You're grown up." And then one day I met the missionaries in the subway. And they came up to me, they gave me their pitch. And I said, "Now I know who you guys are." But I really hadn't had--God wasn't really a priority in my life. And, you know, an interesting thing happened where I saw these people, I said, "Wow, there's a big difference between these missionaries and the people that I'm hanging out with." And then, you know, I ended up meeting a lot of returned missionaries who were over there. And when I was with them, the loneliness and, you know, no matter what was going on, I just felt different. And I basically decided at that point--wait, here's this amazing contrast that I've got. I've got Ryan Smith in this world during the day and then I would go hang out with this group, you know, maybe one day a week. And the feeling of who I was with was just the most vivid contrast of feelings that I've probably ever had in my life. And I said, "You know what? I want to be like these people. I want to be like these returned missionaries."
I had to make a decision, and it wasn't a convenient one. That if I wanted to be like these people, I had to change a bunch of things. And I've got to actually follow through with something and go all in and have different priorities. And I needed to do it for real. And the second I did that, my entire life changed. You know, I decided I wanted to go on a mission. I became extremely successful over there teaching English. Everything started to fall into place, where a year before, or six months before, no matter what I did, nothing would work. So that event that happened in my life where I could see, hey, I've got years of contrast of this experience, and then I've got this new feeling. And it's palatable to taste the difference between those two lifestyles and those two Ryan Smiths. And I just said, from that moment on, "This is so much better for me, and this is what I want, and I like this version of myself way better." And I'm always reminded of that. And, you know, I think that's where Ash and I both have had that contrast of both sides, and we just like this side better, and this is why we choose to do what we do and it's a choice and it really brings us both happiness.
Morgan Jones 13:00
Yeah, I think it's it's so fascinating. One thing that I have always liked observing, I think because it builds my faith, is observing the contrast when we have the gospel and when we don't, and I think that what you just described is such a beautiful way of looking at you know, just fairly simple as a teenage boy looking at it and being like, "Okay, my life could go one of two ways, and I'm going to choose this path that puts God first." It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes that's by Ezra Taft Benson, where he says, "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives." So then you started to see this success start to come into your life, and I think that that is super cool. Ryan, in the talk at BYU you said that your family likes to say you found God in Korea, but that you say you like to think that you found out what happens when you are all in, and that you learned what it takes to be all in. So I am wondering for both of you--both of you can speak to this--what you've learned, both then, Ryan, in Korea, but also in the years since, what both of you have found about what it takes to be all in.
Ryan Smith 14:22
Yeah, I think for me, it wasn't single-threaded. I mean, there were a lot of experiences that happened in Korea and then happened on my mission and then happened when I came back. You know, I'll just tell you—I went from pretty much not being in school at all prior to Korea to coming back and going to BYU, getting accepted, and going to the business school, and graduating with a very high GPA, and starting Qualtrics, and starting a business. Things just started to build on each other and it's not that bad stuff wasn't happening, or that I didn't have obstacles along the way, because during that time my father had cancer. It feels like there was another level of confidence. And I learned when I went all in, I knew that I could trust in something that was stable, and something that was always there for me no matter where I was in the world, no matter where I was at, no matter what I was going through, that He wasn't going to leave me. And I'd never had that, especially growing up. And I think I really learned where true confidence comes from, and where true happiness and joy comes from. And that's something that's carried with me ever since. And even now, when I find myself either on a high or a low, or motivated or not motivated, because, let's be honest, some days you're just not feeling it, right? I know, what to do to get back and what happens when I do ask myself, "Hey, are you are you in a spot where you're getting true confidence and joy from where you know it comes from?" And that's a constant reminder. And it's not something that is just in that one experience in my life or on a mission, it's something that I have to continue to work at to get that feeling. And there are times, I'll be honest, there are times right now in today's environment where getting the signal through the noise is pretty difficult because there's a lot of noise out there. But it also shows that it's probably the most important time to be able to say, "Hey, you know, how much signal am I getting these days? Am I actually feeling something?" I don't know what you think, Ash.
Ashley Smith 17:03
Well, I think something that you kind of felt in Korea, and I was lucky enough to feel as a child, is just hope for a certain outcome. I think you found this hope that God was going to help in the end no matter what. And I ended up with that hope really young. And then it kept coming back and getting me through messy after messy, all the way until adulthood because life is messy. And I think that when you have hope when you have something to hope for, and then you have hope of this outcome, whatever that is--whether it's Church-related, gospel-related, work-related, family-related, relationship-related, whatever--then you have a desire to go get it. And so, being all in, you've got to have the hope and the desire to go get it and then make intentional moves to get there. And when you kind of have that formula, that's being all in. Because you're not just kind of wanting it to happen and not putting any action behind it, but you want it, you know what it is, and then you go get it. And I think we've both, in our very different but oddly similar ways, have kind of found that formula that works for us.
Morgan Jones 18:27
Yeah. I love that both of you touched on this idea that confidence and trust is a byproduct of choosing to be all in. And I think that that's true of anything, not just our relationship with God. So I want to talk a little bit about a few different ways that we can be all in different aspects of our lives. But really quickly, before we get to that, I loved, Ryan, how you said that it doesn't mean that life was perfect, and then, Ashley, you said life is messy. And I just read this quote this morning by Brene Brown that says, "I thought faith would say, 'I'll take away the pain and discomfort,' but what it ended up saying was, 'I'll sit with you in it.'" And I think that's kind of part of this idea of placing that trust in God and choosing to be all in and knowing that, in return, we will be blessed with a confidence and a trust in Him. So let's talk a little bit about a few different aspects of being all in. Ryan, you said in this talk at BYU that every success in your life has been the result of choosing to be all in. You said specifically all in on your career, all in on your family, and all in on your faith. So what does it mean to you, Ryan, to be all in in your career? And then I'm curious, Ashley, as someone who obviously is a huge support to someone whose job is very demanding, what does that look like for you?
Ryan Smith 20:08
Yeah, so look, being all is hard, it's a practice, it's a muscle. I loved how Ashley said it's a formula. And I agree with Brene Brown. I love Brene. You know, we've had a chance to talk, Ashley and I, a bunch about like, hey, and it's kind of a little bit of who we are when we do something. We only know one gear. And you know, Ash is an entrepreneur as well. She runs a pretty large dance studio with 600 kids and 20 faculty members. So we go at it pretty hard, and especially as a couple, but also we get to hire a lot of young people, and I'll be honest with you, a lot of young people that I see today have never been all in on anything in their life. It's the last art of actually going all in on something. They were like me when I was 18 years old. You know, I had never really known what ultimate commitment looked like.
I'll never forget a story that happened to us. I mean, we'd been married about four or five years. Ashley bet on this kid who was starting a company in a basement and didn't have a car a job. We were about four or five years in and someone offered to buy Qualtrics from us. And I had a couple partners, but everyone really looked at me and said, "Okay, Ryan, you've got to make this decision." And my mind was racing. We were so heads-down on the business that we never really thought that someone would care enough to want to buy it from us. And it was a substantial amount of money at the time. And I remember getting in the car and saying, "Ashley, let's just drive. Let's go down to St. George, we're out. And we're going to go talk and we're going to ponder and we're going to think about what to do." And we didn't get, I think to Nephi, or 30 miles down the road before Ashley basically said, "Look, Ryan, you're not done. We're not gonna have you sit at home anymore. Let's just go forward. And let's just go all in. Is it all gonna go backwards or not? Like just go all in. You have nothing to lose by just going all in." So we decided to turn down this offer. And in the media, it came out that we turned down this offer. So the people who offered it were really upset because it looked like I went to the media and said, "Hey, I'm turning this offer down and I'm going at it alone," which freaked me out because that was the ultimate way to burn the boat. But at that moment, it really forced us to be all in on this career move. And we never ever looked back from that. And as we talk about it, we say, you know, it happened in a weird way. But we decided together that this is what we were going to go do. And there was really no plan B. I mean, it's exactly what we did. And then if you look at how the company and the organization and everything we've been able to do for the last seven years, that was one of those pivotal moments. And, you know, I've patterned a lot of my life and career after that. I'm 24/7. I don't know how to do halfway, Ashley doesn't know how to do halfway, and we're young. This is the time to go make an impact. And I don't understand how to go through life any other way. And it has no bearing on how much money or financial resources or success you have, it's much more about, you know, what are you on earth to do? And do you care about your work? And, you know, this is what we're also trying to teach some of the folks that work for us. How can you find your own driving-in-the-car moment where you've got to burn that boat and go all in?
Ashley Smith 24:24
I mean, our go-to decision-making move is: what is our end goal? What does our end goal look like? And we define that, we figure out that picture, and we get to a spot where we agree and that's what helps us get all in. It's kind of back to the hope thing. It's something to hope for, a certain outcome. And then it's whatever we need to do to get there, right?
Ashley Smith 24:50
I mean, obviously the gospel of Jesus Christ guides us very strongly. But other than that, it's going to be uncomfortable, it's going to be unfair, you know? In trying to support Ryan, if I'm sitting here at home, if we're playing a tally game or tit for tat, or things have to be equal, I mean, that just doesn't work. So the idea is, what is our end goal, and how do we get there? It's going to be uncomfortable. Are we both okay with that? Yeah, let's go, all in. We're going to sacrifice. Sleep might go, health might go, balance might go for a minute, but we'll pull it all back together when we need to, and we know that because we know what the end goal is. And the end goal is always something we've agreed upon, that we think is beautiful. And so it's easy to go all in when that's how you make decisions.
Ryan Smith 25:45
That's really well said.
Morgan Jones 25:46
You both are just like, spitting truth. So there are several things that I want to touch on in what you just said. First of all, mad props, Ashley, you may want to consider venture capital because you obviously know what to invest in. Like, shoot, that's multiple times you made the right call. But I really think what you were just saying, Ashley, about how we obviously have the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that's super helpful, and we know that we have the ability to receive personal revelation, but I think something that's really hard for people sometimes is this desire to be guided in all things. President Oaks, in a talk that I love, talks about how your strengths can become your weaknesses. And he says, you know, this desire to be led in all things can be a good thing, but can also be hard. I love that you said that you ask yourselves, what do you want the end goal to be? Because I think that there are times where we're going to seek that personal revelation, but then we have to use our brains and ask good questions and then go forward, trusting in God. Trusting that if we go all in, and it's not the right path, He'll stop us. Do you guys have any thoughts about that?
Ryan Smith 27:07
Yeah, I mean, I debate a lot about the decision-making process of big decisions. And I'll just be honest, a lot of the decisions in my life that are massive--I mean, I had to make a decision to sell our company last year in about a 90-minute process on a Sunday, right? That's about the time we had and it was probably less than that. And I think everyone has their own different philosophy on decision making. So I've had to ask myself a lot over the last couple of years, does God care about all my decisions?
Ashley Smith 27:50
Yeah, actually, when I think about, we're on a path to become a disciple of Christ. That's what we're doing. And we are trying our best, and we obviously are goal-oriented in terms of business. And we'd like to take opportunities we can to be a disciple of Christ within that. But in the end, I don't love asking Heavenly Father for help with things that maybe don't affect whether or not I'm a disciple of Christ. So I don't know what He's doing, but I think He's like, "Do what you want but are you still on the path to be a disciple?" That's kind of how I look at that.
Ryan Smith 28:34
Yeah, mine's a little different, I think. And Ashley and I are mostly aligned on how we think about stuff. As Ashley said, we have this fundamental goal of what we want to become, and I think there's probably a lot of different ways to get there. And there are actually some ways that maybe we're headed down that are perfectly okay, but probably aren't for us because there might be something behind that door that we don't know. And it's not a bad thing. There might be something behind that door that could take us in a path that we can't get out of. And there've been enough experiences in my life recently, even in business where things that I kind of wanted, and I thought I wanted, didn't happen and they just weren't fitting right, or things that we were on a path to go down, which are totally acceptable and awesome things, something else came that never happens and never pops up right in front. And I could just see myself going back and saying, "Hey, how did we end up in this unintentional spot that impacted our family and our broader goal?" And looking back over the tape, and being like, "Well, there was that other path that was put in front of you." And I think that what we've tried to do is just make those decisions wisely as much as we can. And once we make them, even those, you've still got to go do all the work and turn those decisions into good experiences. Just like when we turned down the offer early on to sell the business, it could have easily turned into a bad decision, but you still have to go make that happen. And I think, for me, there's a lot of confidence that, if you're trying to feel something every day, if you're trying to feel in tune, if you know where you're going, then those split-second decisions, you have a much higher accuracy to get in a better spot. A friend just told me, "Pain happens to everyone, but the kind of hate the most is the self-inflicted kind." And if I could just avoid a little more self-inflicted pain than the next person then the gospel is worth it because, for me, I've lived without it and man, there was a lot of self-inflicted pain. And I feel that when I am I'm in tune and I am with it, whether it's there or not, I'm either surpassing it, or I'm not seeing it, or there's just a little bit less of it. And that makes it all worth it for me and my family.
Morgan Jones 31:40
Yeah. I really appreciate both of your thoughts on that. And I think that both ways of thinking, like you said, they really are aligned, and they're valuable. I want to come back really quickly to something, Ryan, that you said earlier, you mentioned that you both in your work capacities have the opportunity to work with a lot of young people and that a strength of young people is not necessarily going all in--I guess it would be a weakness in that case. But I'm curious for you both, in working with young people, how do you encourage them to go all in?
Ashley Smith 32:21
Well, first of all, leading by example is the ultimate way to teach anything. I mean, all of my students know how much passion and how much I give to them, and to the dance studio, and their education, and their self-worth. And they see me go all in. Because that's all I'm willing to do. I'm not willing to do kind of a good job, right? So being able to witness it, I think is the most effective. But also, you know, life is messy. Things will get messy and having end goals, teaching how to set end goals, and knowing that you are teaching how to get there, no matter what. I mean, those are just kind of my main ways that I would try and empower youth with that.
Ryan Smith 33:20
Yeah, I really think by just being who you are and living how you're going to live. I mean, we were in the middle of our IPO roadshow, we were getting ready to go public as a company. We had five kids, and life was just, I mean, it was probably one of the hardest years of our life. And we get a call, "Hey, will you guys go down to BYU and help serve in a bishopric?" And I came home to Ash and I was like, "There's no way like, isn't there someone else, or isn't there another time?" And then it was really quickly that we went back to "Hey, what are we trying to do here? Like, what's our end goal?" And the end goal that we had set out actually fit more into that plan. And if there was ever a time to go serve, it was probably now. I remember going into my admin at the time and being like, "Okay, I'm gonna have to be here on Sundays." We're looking through the schedule of the last two years and... you know we were always somewhere on Sundays in a Church and doing things, but we were everywhere. And it was amazing, that first year I think I missed probably two or three Sundays in the whole year and most of them were more for golf or something else, right? It wasn't it didn't have anything to do with work. So if you actually find a way to prioritize, that was just such a strong evidence that we control our lives, and we can actually impact when we want to go all in on something. It's amazing how the world can go around, and we'll find a way. That was a good example, I think, and it was a reminder that we had decided beforehand. And the purpose of that is--and Ashley does such a great job at this--we need to be intentional. I don't want to wake up in life in a different spot than where I wanted or intended to end up and being like, "Man, how did I get here?" I've been there before, and it's a slippery road. And part of the problem is, is what makes us really good as humans right now can also make us really end up in different spots. So I don't bring the same wrench or toolkit to the business world that I bring to my faith.
Ashley Smith 36:06
Well, and, arguably, Satan could zero in on us wanting to be all in, in a business sense. And that decision to be in a bishopric we very easily could have been like, "Well, we're all in on on the company right now, so right now is not the time." And that would be Satan masterfully using our own all-in-ness against us, you know?
Ryan Smith 36:30
Or just my own twisted head, right? Like, I don't need Satan for that reaction. It's just me being human in, in reality. It's the ability to decipher in that moment as Ashley was saying. And, you know, the funny thing that we're finding is there's never really a good time. So if you're not gonna make it, then it's gonna be tough. That was a long answer to your question.
Morgan Jones 37:05
No, no, no. That was perfect and it made me think, you know, talking about balance. Scott O'Neil, who I think you all know, he said that he knew you guys.
Ryan Smith 37:17
Yeah, love Scotty.
Morgan Jones 37:18
One of my favorite people. We asked him about balance when he was on the show, and he was like, "Yeah, no, my life is not really in balance." And I think that that's the thing, it's a matter of determining the priority in any given situation. And like you said, if you're gonna if you're an all in type of person, it can be really easy to focus that all-in-ness in a different way. I want to talk a little bit, before we get to the end, about your family. So obviously you have faith responsibilities, work responsibilities, and then you're also raising a family which we know is so important in our Heavenly Father's plan. I wondered, Ryan, what you've learned—and I love that you already touched on something that Ashley has taught you about being intentional--but what you've learned from Ashley as a wife and mother about being all in and then, Ashley, what you've learned from Ryan about being all in?
Ryan Smith 38:24
Yeah, with regards to family?
Morgan Jones 38:27
Ryan Smith 38:28
Yeah. I mean, our upbringing, for both of us, has definitely impacted how we think about family. And Ashley sacrifices a lot to be married to someone like me. And in turn, I think it's helped me--and I'm a slower learner and a slower giver than she is--I want to actually do the same for her. I remember when she started the dance studio early on, it was in our basement. And I was like, so I'm doing a startup, and now I come home and I can't pull into the driveway because I got really Suburbans of moms picking up their kids. Like, no, no. I'm doing the hardest thing in the world, and then I come home and I've got three-year-olds in my driveway and I can never get in. I was like, "No, no, this isn't how it's supposed to go." And it was a real confrontational moment in our marriage, like early on, because I hated the dance studio. My world got a little crazier, and the dance studio became crazier. I grew to love it. And I loved it because Ashley had her own identity, her own role, that was more than just, "Hey, I'm part of the Ryan show, and I'm going to be around the three-year-olds and the five-year-olds all day long at home. I actually am building something, and I'm going through." And for us, it's been one of the most amazing things. And we both had to learn how to give. And so, Ashley, when it comes to family, first of all, she's intentional. So there's nothing that's more important than that. And she's really good at helping us see like, "Okay, where are we headed, and what needs to change? Even if it's the hard things." And so we talk about it. She's an absolute giver, and I need a giver, right? And she's definitely sacrificed some of her own, and she understands that balance isn't like this perfectly balanced airplane where the wings are just perfectly flying in the air, and she understands that one wings going to be down at all times. You know, if we're sick or unhealthy at home, that wing's down. If I've got something on my work, or she's got her dance show, that wing's going to be down. And she doesn't keep score. But balance is how we look at it maybe over a three month period and we say, "Hey, did we get everything done, or are there parts of our lives that aren't balanced right now?" But let's not look at on day-by-day or week-by-week basis. Let's look at it a little further out, because if we're always course-correcting every day, then we're probably not going to get anything done in any way. Because we've kind of got to go deep on stuff and aspects of our lives to do it. So I'm just grateful that we've kind of grown-up this way together because I think it's something we've had to do. And that doesn't mean it's easy, doesn't mean it's not tough, doesn't mean that marriage is perfect. We're pretty real, and we try to be.
Ashley Smith 41:52
Yeah, I like that question. I like hearing him say all those nice things about me. But we are very lucky in that we have a lot to teach each other. He is one who makes a decision and doesn't look back. So all in is very much in Ryan's blood, and I don't know that I'm naturally that way. I've grown to be that way, and I've grown to love being that way, but I used to tiptoe into decisions. But Ryan makes a decision, there's no wavering, there's no looking back, there's no regret, there's no "what might have been." And he knows that no matter what happens, things will get messy and hard and uphill battles will come, and he kind of takes those almost with excitement. And I don't want to be the dead weight in that scenario, right? So it motivates me to want to be all in as well and to not want to look back and not want to regret and have the goal in sight. And it helps keep it clear. I mean, it's clear, when you make a decision, and you don't look back again, your goal stays really clear ahead of you. I've just learned that from Ryan, and I'm really grateful for that. I picked well
Morgan Jones 43:14
You did. You did. Investing in the boy with the business in the basement turned out to not be a bad investment. I think what both of you said is so good. One thing that I really liked that both of you touched on is this idea of not keeping score, and not viewing it as like, you know, "I gave this, and you gave this, and where does that shake out?" And I think that is something that a lot of people struggle with, so I loved your thoughts on that. Thank you so much for sharing those. Ryan, you said at BYU, in regard to faith, you said, "It's not cool to be all in. But I can promise you this, nothing will bring you more happiness than to be all in on your faith. Your faith is way too important to outsource to something someone else says." What does it mean to each of you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Ryan Smith 44:15
Yeah, I'll go first with that. I said that because there was a quote there that said we also live in a day where doubt and cynicism is popular, in vogue. And I get that. I was recently at Harvard with a group of students and, you know, the muscle that we were attacking business problems with was one of doubt and cynicism and how to be skeptical. And it's really easy to question everything in that business environment, and that's actually how you come up with a formula to make great decisions. The problem is, it's the worst way to come up with the formula to make decisions on your faith--and that doesn't mean questioning. But faith and going all in, it's something you've got to do, and it's different for every single person. So for me, nothing I've ever done has ever been great if I haven't gone all in. And I think that, for me, and everything I've seen, it's really clear. I mean, we had a phenomenal success in the eyes of the business world. And I'll be honest with you, the day that we closed our deal, and checks cashed, and everything was there, it's probably one of the most underwhelming days of my life from a success standpoint. I'm just going to be super transparent with that. So if that's super underwhelming, and I know that joy comes from serving, and I found it in the gospel, and I haven't had it at all outside.
Are there things that I question or things that I don't like? I always say the 50 greatest people I know are members of the Church that I want my kids to be like, but I'll turn around right after and say the 50 I don't want my kids to be anything like, they're also in that same Church, right? And that's true, but that happens everywhere. And you know, so much of my world is outside the gospel and the Church with the people I associate with, and they love what we have. They love the discussions we have about the purpose. And for me, the more I dig in, the more I go in, the more I put in, the more I try to feel; the more I feel, and the more I'm guided, and the more confidence I have. Just even recently with this last General Conference, I haven't wanted to listen to a General Conference that bad since 9/11 happened. That conference was just a couple weeks later, and I was glued to the TV. During this pandemic, it's interesting. This happened in March, and here we are with another conference. And I was like, "Whoa." And hearing our prophet talk, I don't care who you are--there is a confidence and a level of purpose that came out of that that I haven't gotten anywhere else. Anywhere else. And for me, that's what I get every day when I go all in. And I'm either fortunate or unfortunate enough to know from a long history of my life without that, where I don't get that. And I just have a strong testimony of both having it not having it. Everything good I have in my life has come from the decision--including Ashley, including my kids, including everything that really matters--has come from having it. And that's my thought. That's how I feel about going all in. And I just encourage people that if they're struggling, or they've got a lot of questions, or they can't get over stuff, just go all in, and I think you'll figure it out. And I'll tell you, the pros definitely way outweigh the cons in my mind, and I found happiness through that way. I probably experienced recently a lot of what other people think would be happiness. And I'm just telling you, it's not. It's not at all. It's super underwhelming.
Morgan Jones 48:30
Thank you so much. Ashley?
Ashley Smith 48:33
I mean, similarly, happiness to me is the feeling that the gospel brings me. And I learned that. I learned the feeling that I didn't want to feel, and I learned where I could turn, and I found hope there. To me, being all in is finding hope. So you've got to first get your foot in the door and find hope for something. So know what our gospel is about--I mean, if you know that, you have hope, right? And then being willing to intentionally wrestle with all of it until you are in a place where you know that happiness comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it's awesome because we have our whole lives to wrestle and intentionally find out what that happiness is for each of us, but being all in is being dedicated to that process, being dedicated to maintaining hope, and to be willing to fight for it, and keep fighting for it. And having patience, and having work ethic, and hanging in there when it gets uncomfortable, and even maybe unnatural sometimes. But keep fighting for that hope and for the happiness that comes with the gospel.
Morgan Jones 50:01
Beautiful. Thank you both so much. You shared so many thoughts that I had never considered before. And I think that they will be so valuable to the people that will listen to this episode. So thank you both so much for your time and for your thoughts.
Ashley Smith 50:17
Thanks for having us.
Ryan Smith 50:18
Hey, thanks for having us.
Morgan Jones 50:23
We are so appreciative to Ashley and Ryan Smith for coming on today's show. Be sure to check out our show notes for a link to Ryan's address at the "BYU Marriott School," as well as other quotes from this week's episode. Thank you, as always, to Derek Campbell from "Mix at Six Studios" for his great work, and a big thanks to all of you for listening. We couldn't do this without your willingness to help us spread the word, and we really love you for it. Until next week, please stay safe and stay healthy.