Episode 80: How Your Childhood Traumas Might Be Affecting Your Business (And What to Do About It) With Michael Unbroken

April 11, 2022


On today’s episode we have Michael Unbroken. Michael is an entrepreneur, a coach, a podcast host, an award-winning speaker, a bestselling author, and an advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma. Michael’s story is mind-bending but on top of that, the whole purpose of having Michael on today’s show was to open you up to the possibility that as a high performer who is pushing for your next level of success, you might need to look deeper, past the surface. 

When you’re leading and you’re in a role of leadership, both in your business and in your family, sometimes you don’t feel like you have the space or the luxury to face what’s really going on. Maybe it’s too painful or it would take too much out of you and you’ve got nothing left in the tank because you have to give it all to everybody else, so you cannot afford to be anything but “okay”.

I hope that Michael’s story and our conversation will inspire you to see that healing and working through your traumas and focusing on what’s underlying that surface, is all part of the process and it will ultimately craft you into the leader you really need to be

In this episode, Michael breaks it down with some tactical strategies and also some real life wisdom and a story that will have you in tears, while simultaneously having your jaw on the floor. He is truly an incredible speaker and someone I’m so proud to bring on this show.

Trust me when I say that this episode will leave a lasting impact on your growth, your potential and how you show up in serving the world.


[1:39] Get Yourself to Camp Luminary!

If you haven’t thought of joining  Camp Luminary, I want to let you know what it’s all about. First of all, we have upleveled it. It now includes the very first mastermind for entrepreneurial parents and their kids.

I understand what it feels like to feel guilty when you are working, like you should be with the kids-  and then stressed when you are with the kids because you should be working. And on top of that, feeling like you are at max capacity, just stressed and spread thin and hurried and you know it’s not the life you want to live. You know that’s not what’s best for your kids. But how do you get out of it?

And then you look at your kids and you wonder- Are they being influenced by their environment? Are we  even connected anymore? Am I even able to influence them positively to support them to tap into who they are called to be? I see insecurities rising up but I want them to be confident and courageous. So how do I do that?

This experience at Camp is literally going to have you come into camp one way and leave as a different person, as a different family. We are designing  Camp to have the mastermind lead up to camp and then bookend you coming out of it. This is the only time we are going to include a mastermind with Camp Luminary so I hope you will take advantage!

This is an investment in your family’s future. This is an investment in your quality of life and your calling. This is  an investment in your children. You will learn what is required of you, what tools you need to  equip yourself to model leadership for your children so they can become the leaders they are called to be.

We have amazing guest speakers lined up. You won’t believe the people you are going to be sitting at picnic tables with – a lot of people’s podcasts you listen to or you have seen them speak on stage. It’s going to be a special, life-changing weekend.

Get yourself to Camp! Go to luminaryleadershipco.com/camp to sign up!

Rooms are going super fast so if this is on your heart, if you feel called to this- be there with us!

[7:08] What Are You Willing to Do to Have the Life that You Want to Have?

Michael grew up with a mother who was a drug addict and an alcoholic. When he was 6 years old, his mom married his stepdad who physically abused Michael and his brothers, putting them in the hospital multiple times. Michael remembers lying in his bed at night, wishing for his real father to come back, but he never did. This is the first time Michael realized nobody’s coming to rescue him.

He spent the next four years living with 33 different families, never knowing where he was going to stay. When he was 12, his grandmother adopted him. You might think that his luck changed at this point, but unfortunately his grandmother was a racist white lady from a small town in Tennessee and Michael was a biracial kid.  

He got high for the first time when he was 12. He got drunk for the first time when he was 13. At 15, he was expelled from school for selling drugs. After not being able to graduate high school, Michael made a decision – he was going to make $100,000 a year legally, by the time he was 21. 

He started by working in fast food restaurants, as a general manager at 18 years old with 52 people under him. After a few years, he was able to land a job with a Fortune 10 insurance company, making six figures. And then money destroyed his life.

A few years into the job, Michael was weighing 350 pounds, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, drinking himself to sleep. 

One morning, after spending the night with a gun in his mouth ready to end it all, Michael remembered being eight years old, stealing water from his neighbor because the water company turned their water off. He remembered how he promised himself that would never be his life. Financially, it wasn’t, but it was in every other way, because he was still that hurt, little boy. 

He looked at himself in the mirror, and asked himself a question: What are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? And the answer was: No excuses, just results. 

[15:18] Bend the World to You 

Now, your story might not be similar to Michael’s, but that doesn’t matter. Just because Michael’s trauma was so big and crazy, it doesn’t minimize your own pain and suffering. Each story is different and it’s not about who’s story is worse. It’s about what you are willing to do to have the life you want to have.

When you understand that you can actually bend the world to you, instead of you bending yourself to the world, you will find freedom. According to Michael, that only comes when you remove yourself from being inundated with the opinions of other people.

The truth about life is that there’s always going to be somebody who wants to pull you down, but you need to make sure that person isn’t you. Statistically 83% of people have had a traumatic childhood experience. Your brain only serves one purpose, survival. So, if you are exposed to traumatic experiences in your family and in your environment, your brain learns to turn off. You learn how to not be you and you spend your entire life not being you because it’s dangerous. The most dangerous thing about growing up is that when you are faced with these situations, it’s a theft of your identity, you learn to placate yourself to other people for safety. 

We are the sum total of all of our experiences leading up to this moment. That means everything that’s ever happened in our life informs who we are. So, if you grew up in an environment where you were never good, strong enough, then you’ve been groomed and embedded with the notion and idea that you’re not enough. 

But, you can bend reality to you, instead of you to reality through the scope of recognizing the simple truth: mindset is everything. What you think becomes what you speak, what you speak becomes your actions and your actions become your reality. 

Michael encourages you to grab a pen and write down: I am the kind of person who is kind to myself. He explains that if you’re operating through a scope of kindness, when faced with making the decisions that determine who you are on a day to day basis, both in your business and in your personal life, it will forever shape what you’re capable of discovering about yourself.

[23:33] Giveaway Time! Get Your Business Question Answered by Me 

We’re celebrating the new season of the Luminary Leadership Podcast with an exciting opportunity for you as a potential lucky winner!

From April 4th through April 15th, you can enter into a drawing to submit your most pressing business questions to me. I’ve been doing this for a decade and I love coaching people but usually the only way you can have access to me for something like this is through my programs and my masterminds, but this time you will get it for free. I will give you my breakthrough feedback and send it to you so that you can have that next level launching pad into where you’re called to next. So, if you’re ready to make some massive progress and see huge growth in your business in a quick time frame, here’s your chance. 

All you have to do to enter is rate and review the show in Apple Podcasts. Once you’ve done that, you’re going to take a screenshot of the review and email it to [email protected]. If you’ve already rated and reviewed the show, first of all thank you. We want you to have a chance to get this giveaway too, so just share this episode on your socials and tag me @elizhartke and you will be entered into this giveaway. 

[26:40] You Can’t Lead Authentically if You’re Not Willing to Do the Work

If you are in a position of leadership, you can’t lead authentically if you’re not willing to do the deep work. When you’re not showing up authentically because you haven’t done the work, people that you expect to follow you are not going to follow you. actually truly starts with understanding your values

Michael shares that now, between his three businesses and over 50 people under him, his teams are more aligned  than they’ve ever been because he did the work. It wasn’t about shortcuts, it wasn’t about hiding from his team. It was about leading from the front and taking responsibility for every mistake made. 

It all starts with understanding your values. If you can start recognizing and understanding your values, then that helps build authenticity and self awareness about who you are and those values  then overlap with the values of your brands. So, you’ve got to get super clear about who it is that you are because that representation of self is going to trickle down into every other aspect of your life.

[33:47] Face Your Fear

The trap that a lot of entrepreneurs fall into is knowing that there’s another level for them, but hitting a ceiling. They then lean on things like strategies or tactics, better business coaches or more clients, when in reality, their next level is on the other side of them getting real and facing their trauma. 

When you are faced with this type of situation it’s hard to know where to start. Michael’s advice is to start with things that keep you up at night because until you can clear that, you cannot go to what’s next.

So, quit that job, leave that relationship, ask that person out on a date, go write that book, hit that gym, whatever that thing is, you need to do it. If you are letting yourself down to the point in which you are taking it so easy on yourself by not facing your fears, nothing in your life is going to be different. 

The greatness that you want, that you chase, it’s right there. But it’s not going to come without you reaching for it. There’s nobody coming to rescue you. It’s going to suck and you’re going to struggle and you’re going to make hard decisions that you wish you didn’t have to. But the only way you’re going to get to the other side is to walk through the darkness, and so much about that starts with that thing that keeps you awake at night. 

If you’re not willing to face your fear, then nothing in your life is going to be different. You have to be willing to show up for yourself. That’s where this all starts. Nothing’s going to be different until you make things different.

[40:06] T.E.E.M.

Now, if you want to get to the other side, you need to have massive clarity about what you want. And it starts with defining the person that you want to be. 

Because, the truth is that you don’t need that “thing” you think you need, whatever that is. All you need to do is take action. All you need to do is move towards the goals that you have defined. And you need patience. Because whatever you want to do is going to take you 1000 times longer to do it than you thought. So, one of the greatest things that you can do is adopt the understanding that you’re just learning in this process. Who you are today is not going to be who you are tomorrow. If you can recognize that and continue down that path every single day, on a long enough timeline, you can have everything that you want in your life. 

Michael thinks about all of the aspects of his life in terms of an acronym T.E.E.M which stands for time, effort, energy, money. If you really, truly, truly want to change your life, it requires:

  • Time. Probably a lot longer than you think it is. 
  • Effort. It’s going to be a struggle. Whatever you think you’re about to get into, it’s going to be way more difficult. So, you might as well just get super comfortable with that.
  • Energy. It requires a pointed focus and putting energy in every single day.
  • Money. A lot of times those changes will require money.

If you truly want to change your life, you need to start taking all the things that you have access to in life, bring them into you, and then execute on what you learn immediately. Take what you learned and bring it into play today. Not tomorrow, today because you have to apply what you’re learning in real time if you want to shift.

It’s really about the decisions that you make. So decide on the life that you want to have.

I hope today’s episode inspired you to make the right decision, face your fears and become the hero of your own story to live the life you are called to live.

Make sure to rate and review our show on Apple Podcasts to enter our giveaway. Take a screenshot of the review and email it to [email protected].

Make sure you subscribe because we have some amazing stuff coming your way that you don’t want to miss. Come connect with me on Instagram at @elizhartke!

If there’s a topic, a question or a guest you want to hear on the show, just reach out and share that. We do this for you so the more you tell us, the more we can serve.


Add a comment
+ show Comments
- Hide Comments



The 30-minute, step-by-step guide to gain clarity, get out of the weeds of your business, and get more needle moving things done in way less time.

get me focused!

On the Air

The Luminary Leadership Podcast

We take the guesswork out of unlocking your full potential as an entrepreneur. We'll give you the secrets to make more money, create more freedom, and have more margin, all while still making your family a priority...

tune in

Our Services

We love serving ambitious entrepreneurs like you who are ready to break through to their next level of potential in business, leadership, and live. This is how we do it!


Browse By Category

Business Strategy




Emails people are clamoring over and talking about... 

You're no ordinary leader. You're building your dream differently — with your values and family in tact, and your potential uncorked! This is the spot where I share the super personal stuff to the behind-the-scenes of what works (and what doesn't) in our business. It's also where we can chat!

See ya in the inbox!

Join the No Ordinary
Leader Community


Creating Influential Leaders in Entrepreneurship: BTS + big news only shared to my insiders!