New Thought Leader: Tom Bilyeu

Tom Bilyeu

For a self-proclaimed lazy person, Tom Bilyeu sure has a lot of irons in the fire. The co-founder of Impact Theory and Quest Nutrition, is a highly sought speaker within the personal development and empowerment community. Millions watch his weekly interview series that “explores the mindsets of the world’s highest achievers to learn their secrets to success.” Clearly this is not the same Tom who used to lie in bed for three hours after his alarm went off.

It started with a decision to finally change his mindset. An ambitious guy with little drive to actually accomplish his goals, it was the motivation of a disapproving future father-in-law and disgust with himself and his position in life that began his quest for self-improvement. His discovery that personal drive was something that could actually be developed helped shape his future.

Quest Nutrition was a unicorn startup. The company sold to Simply Good Foods for $1 billion in 2019. He and his partners, including his wife Lisa, grew Quest from its founding in 2010 to becoming No. 2 on the Inc 500 Fastest Growing Companies list by 2014. Quest is well known for its highly popular nutrition bars, which are free from added sugars. He says he came from a morbidly obese family, so Quest was a way of impacting the world for good from a health perspective.

He credits his “growth mindset” with changing his life and allowing him to achieve things beyond his wildest imaginations. His efforts today are focused on passing that mindset on to others through Impact Theory, a media company that produces shows, comics, graphic novels, films and more ventures focused on the goal of positively impacting our culture.

“The ultimate goal for me is to pull people out of the Matrix at scale by giving them an empowering mindset,” Bilyeu, 43, says.

The Matrix metaphor is one that Bilyeu has used consistently throughout his career as a personal development speaker. It’s an apt comparison for Bilyeu’s take on the normal human experience. In the film, main character Neo is taught that his life is part of a massive simulation. He’s offered the ability to take a Blue Pill and go back to his normal life within the computer program or take a Red Pill and exit the Matrix to begin to think for himself. Bilyeu wants everyone to take the Red Pill. His work at Impact Theory is a way to create more Neos in the world.

Bilyeu isn’t shy with his ambitions for Impact Theory, either. He and his team are attempting to—his words—build the next Disney. They believe that the best way to shift culture is through narrative and one of the most powerful ways he wants to teach the growth mindset is through children’s programming. He wants kids to be able to see stories of people who have that same mindset that changed his life so that they will begin to internalize the mindset at an early age.

It took Bilyeu until after college to make those important changes in his life and he wants others to realize their potential well before he did.

“I do not like that people’s lives are essentially dictated by the small group of people around them,” Bilyeu says.

Impact Theory exists to provide people with the tools to change their lives no matter who surrounds them. He says that human beings are the ultimate adaptation machines. Essentially, humans can do whatever they set their minds to do. He believes that epigenetics, essentially the idea that we can change parts of our genetic makeup without changing our genes themselves, is at the heart of human behavior. If you can change your mindset you can begin to change your habits and then you can accomplish your goals and dreams.

His own shift from the unmotivated person lying in bed for hours on end to the incredibly successful entrepreneur, speaker, and inspirational figure didn’t happen overnight. However, it did start when he made the decision to better himself. Every change has a starting point and Bilyeu hopes Impact Theory can be that starting point for many.

Today Bilyeu spends about 80 percent of his working time building the business of Impact Theory and the other 20 percent as a personal development speaker and coach. The two work together for him as so much of what he’s doing at Impact Theory dovetails with what he’s talking about at his speaking engagements.

Impact Theory offers content designed to give people the tools and knowledge they need to unlock their potential and impact the world. This includes weekly episodes of the flagship Impact Theory series, health focused content, Impact Theory University curriculum, reading lists, and a knowledge center focusing on teaching the theories of the growth mindset that got a young Bilyeu out of bed and into the boardroom. He’s now dedicated to teaching as many people as possible on how to change their own lives like he changed his. 

Meet the other New Thought Leaders:

Gabrielle Bernstein
Brendon Burchard

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Illustration by Hanane Kai

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Cecilia Meis is a full-time writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas. Besides SUCCESS, her work has appeared in Time Out Dallas, Rewire, Healthline and others. Outside of work, she plays beach volleyball, attempts home cooking and is ardently working toward making her cat, Nola, Insta-famous.

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Jonny Auping is a freelance writer based in Dallas.

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Jamie Friedlander is a freelance writer based in Chicago and the former features editor of SUCCESS magazine. Her work has been published in The Cut, VICE, Inc., The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among other publications. When she's not writing, she can usually be found drinking matcha tea into excess, traveling somewhere new with her husband or surfing Etsy late into the night.

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