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Why Dr. Phil Has the Ultimate "Street Cred"






COACH MIKE BAYER: Today on the Coach Mike podcast we’re gonna be going to the home of someone who actually brought Coach Mike to life, even helped come up with the name. I’m going to Dr. Phil’s house, and we are going to be having a conversation. The tables are turned and I’m going to be interviewing him and you do not want to miss this.

DR. PHIL McGRAW: No pressure, right?

MIKE: No pressure at all. Um, I wanted to have this be casual and get to know you a little bit more. I know a lot about you.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, maybe.

MIKE: Yeah. I mean, I’ve known you for the last few years but I don’t know a whole lot really, of details about your childhood and what it was like to grow up as Phil.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, it’s pretty boring actually.

MIKE: I like to be bored. Yeah, so you ae the third out of four kids and you have all sisters, right?

DR. PHIL: Yeah, four sisters. Two older and one younger. We were four years apart.

MIKE: Okay, and what was life like growing up?

DR. PHIL: We moved around a lot. I wasn’t military but it seemed like we were because we moved every three years.


DR. PHIL: First, second, and third grade in like Tulsa, Oklahoma and fourth, fifth, and sixth in Denver, seven, eighth, and ninth in Oklahoma, City. And ten, eleven, and twelve in Kansas City. We moved every three years, so I was always the new kid.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: So you never had lifelong friends because you moved every three years.

MIKE: And were you close friends with your sisters?


MIKE: Not at all.


MIKE: Why not?

DR. PHIL: Well, I was the only boy, I guess, and we were all four years apart. So. That’s a pretty big gap.

MIKE: Who were you closest to in your family?

DR. PHIL: Uh, my little sister Brenda, cause I was pretty protective of her. I always said they had us kids in pairs, like the two older ones were kind of nutty, and then the two younger ones were pretty normal, so. We were kind of separated into pairs.

MIKE: Got it, and what would you two guys do together?

DR. PHIL: My sister, my little sister and I?

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: Well, we were four years apart, so not a lot. I just kind of was her protector, watched out for her, took care of her and all because my dad was an alcoholic so he didn’t do that, so I was kind of the patriarch of the family.

MIKE: Got it. And did your older sisters talk to you at all about -- did they complain much about your parents growing up?

DR. PHIL: No, we didn’t talk much.

MIKE: Really?

DR. PHIL: Yeah, we didn’t talk much. They started getting married really early on.

MIKE: And when did you realize that there was a problem with your dad’s drinking?

DR. PHIL: Uh, from as early as I can remember. I mean, he was an alcoholic his entire life. Uh, far back --

MIKE: You have any memories --

DR. PHIL: Yeah as far back as I can remember, five, six, seven years old I remember him being drunk.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: So yeah, it was my whole life.

MIKE: What did you think it was when you were five, six, or seven? You literally were like this is because of that thing?

DR. PHIL: Yeah, I thought he was a drunk. Yeah.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: It was all through the family so I had a pretty good idea what it was.

MIKE: And where was your mom during this?

DR. PHIL: She was pretty passive. She was there, but pretty passive.

MIKE: Okay. And did you ever talk to your dad about not drinking?

DR. PHIL: Mm, no.

MIKE: Really?


MIKE: You never asked him, hey dad, can you just cool it off on the drinks?


MIKE: What would have happened?

DR. PHIL: Absolutely nothing. There was nothing you could say to him to get him to quit drinking.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, it wouldn’t matter. He would wreck a car, it didn’t matter, he’d be drinking the next day.

MIKE: Was he ever apologetic.

DR. PHIL: Never.

MIKE: Never?!

DR. PHIL: No. Never.

MIKE: So you literally would have a dad that was drunk all the time.

DR. PHIL: Well not all the time. But. Every week.

MIKE: Every week?

DR. PHIL: Yeah.

MIKE: And so how did you escape that?

DR. PHIL: Well, just, by just that -- just escaping it. I can remember even when I was in what they now call middle school, we called it junior high back then, uh, even then I had a real small room in our house and I came and went through the bedroom window, I didn’t go through the house. So when I would come home I didn’t come in the front door and go down the hall to my room, I went in the bedroom window. When I left to go to school in the morning I went out the bedroom window.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: I went in and out the window so I didn’t have to go through the house, because it was total chaos.

MIKE: Like what type of chaos?

DR. PHIL: Well, yelling, screaming, violence. You know, domestic violence. Fights. Stuff torn up, stuff ripped off the walls. You know, just total chaos.

MIKE: Did you have your own room?

DR. PHIL: Yeah, well, sort of. It was like a big closet, it was a very small house.

MIKE: Got it.

DR. PHIL: But I was the only boy so I had to have my own space, because the other three girls they could be together but not the guy, so I did have my own room but it wasn’t very big.

MIKE: And what type of parenting did you have, if any?

DR. PHIL: Uh, it was pretty passive. You know, my mother was a great lady, she was very nice. Never raised her voice to me her whole life, my whole life, until she passed away, but she was very passive. Doorbell rang she would run to the back room and hide, she was very shy, very passive. You know, didn’t want to engage. And um, so I was just very independent.

MIKE: And you know, some people go and they really excel and take care of themselves as you know. And some people follow the lead of their father. Do you remember any critical moments you had where you?

DR. PHIL: Yeah. I just never was much on drinking. I tried to get drunk in high school but I got, I got hung over while I was drinking. It was like I got hit in the head with an axe, and of course I probably didn’t give it a great shot because then you would drink hot beer in the morning in the parking lot before school. No wonder you’d get a headache, but all of my friends drank, so I was the designated drinker in high school.

MIKE: Driver.

DR. PHIL: I was the designated driver in high school cause I didn’t drink, everybody else did, and I was the designated buyer, too, because I had a receding hairline in my sophomore year.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: So I could go two to three days without shaving and put on my Sunday suit and walk into a liquor store and buy alcohol, so I was the designated buyer and driver, so I had more kids throwing up in my shitty car than you could imagine and I didn’t even drink.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: So I was the designated driver before there was such a thing, people didn’t talk about designated drivers back then, I was that guy.

MIKE: And what type of friends did you choose?

DR. PHIL: Athletes.

MIKE: Okay.

DR. PHIL: Because I was always in athletics, so, but in high school I was friends with everybody. Um, athletes were very cliquish in my high school but I wasn’t really that way. There were different kinds of groups in my high school, there were the nerds, the really smart kids, and I was friends with all of them. And then there were the ones that we called the greasers, they were the ones that were down in the hallways where autoshop was and were rebuilding cars and stuff and I was friends with them. Um, and then there were the athletes and I was one of them and I was friends with them, so I was really friends with everybody.

MIKE: Do you remember solving their problems? Do you remember being the guy they would go to with their issues?

DR. PHIL: Um, no, I was just pretty inclusive, pretty accepting of everybody. And I was on the football team and we were like three years in high school, we never lost a game, so we were like a really big thing on our high school campus, and I was friends with people who usually didn’t hang out with athletes, so that was a lot of fun for them. I would see them and that was fun for them, I didn’t understand why at the time.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: Cause it was a big deal, I guess. Uh, knowing somebody on the football team that didn’t usually know people on the football team.

MIKE: And what did you love about being on the team?

DR. PHIL: Just the competition. I mean, it was my currency at the time because when you grow up really poor and we grew up really poor, when we moved to Kansas City, just my dad and I moved there. My mother and sisters didn’t go because we just couldn’t afford it. There was no money for anything, and when I say anything I mean, anything.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: That was the summer that I was homeless before my sophomore year and then we got an apartment but we didn’t have money for utilities, so we had this one bedroom apartment, we didn’t have electricity, we didn’t have heat, we didn’t have anything. We moved in in September, we didn’t have utilities until January.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: And it’s cold up there, in Kansas City, in the fall. Um, and so you go to school and you don’t have, you don’t have clothes, you know stylish clothes that are in at the time.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: You don’t have any of the social currency, so your currency is your athletics.

MIKE: Mhm.

DR. PHIL: What you could do. And that was true even when I was in grade school and junior high. We were really poor, so you had no entertainment, but my games were the family’s entertainment.

MIKE: Right. That’s when everyone got together.

DR. PHIL: They didn’t have money to go to the movies or stuff like that, but I’d have a game on like Thursday nights.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: That’s when you played the games for pop Warner type football or whatever --

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: That was a big deal, that was a family outing because they were free and everybody would go and I was on a team, and pretty good, and so that gave them something to cheer and be proud of and go to the games.

MIKE: And that made you feel good.

DR. PHIL: Stuff like that, so that was my identity, that was my currency.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: Because when you move in, like when I moved in to Kansas City all those kids on the football team had been playing together for like eight years. And they moved up as a unit, it was a plan. I mean, it was a program.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: And here comes a kid from nowhere, out of town --

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: -- and I hadn’t played the year before. So I was a total outsider, I remember when I first showed up for football on the first day, there were 82 people out for my position and I was number 82.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: So I started out, they handed out all the equipment, and everybody had on these white pants and white jerseys and I got the last equipment they had, there were these yellow pants that didn’t match everybody else’s pants. (LAUGHS).

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: I looked like I fell off the truck somewhere.

MIKE: So it was that currency that kind of brought the family together, it gave you self-worth, made you feel loved by peers. Because they were like he’s awesome, we love being around him.

DR. PHIL: Well you have an immediate peer group. And when you get on a team -- there’s like fifty people you know.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: And fifty people that know you. So you don’t sit by yourself in the lunch room because you’ve got teammates that know you, as opposed to somebody who could come there and didn’t have any peer group, didn’t have anybody they knew, just some stranger.

MIKE: Yeah, I mean, I’m with you. I played sports and I played captain of the basketball team, went out with the homecoming queen, went on to play basketball and for me at least it was what brought my family together. It also brought in people to, who told me how great I was. It was something that built the steam, you know?

DR. PHIL: Yeah. And it, it helps because once you step onto the field, it doesn’t matter how much money you have.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: It doesn’t matter how stylish your clothes were before you got there. What matters is, how fast can you run, how high can you run, how many people can you knock on their ass? Can you get in the end zone? That’s what matters, nothing else matters. It just matters what you can do in the competitive arena at the time. And that was, that was currency if you did well, then you know, you got respect, you got esteem.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: And that was something that distinguished me instead of being wallpaper.Uh, at that school.

MIKE: And how did you transition from playing football, going to play college football, getting a scholarship, and then ending up pursuing psychology?

DR. PHIL: You know, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I thought maybe I would go to law school, maybe I would go to medical school, maybe I would do psychology. And uh, I wasn’t really sure but I always had this fascination with what made people tick and I thought about being a physician, and we had a family friend that was an internist and he asked me to come -- he said you can come spend a couple of weeks kind of shadowing me one summer, and I spent about four days and thought, this is not what I want to do.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: This is like being an auto mechanic, same thing every day over and over and over, except the cars smell funny. So I just didn’t want to do that.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: But I always had this fascination with what really makes people different from one another, what makes them do the things they do, what makes them tick, and I guess I got into that because of athletics, you know. Because you can get two guys that run identical speed, have the same vertical leap, have the same power, lift, everything. One of them’s a star and one of them’s not. Why? It’s between their ears. So I got really fascinated with that really early on. And so I started studying it at a real young age.

MIKE: Was that before or after your dad decided to become a psychologist?

DR. PHIL: Oh, that’s before.

MIKE: Before, so you were already.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, because of athletics, I started reading books about why champion athletes were champion athletes.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: Whether it was Will Chamberlain or whoever, I wondered why, why was one guy rally great and another one wasn’t even though they looked the same?

MIKE: And so what --

DR. PHIL: That’s still true today. I mean, look at Emmet Smith who's a leading rusher in the history of the NFL.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: There are people that have the same build, the same speed, the same reaction time, everything as him, that are barely making the team, and he’s the greatest rusher in the history of the NFL.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: And he and I are good friends, so I know a lot about what’s between his ears, and so even today I see the differences, and it’s all what’s between the ears. Let me tell you, there are people that have forgotten more psychology than I’ll probably ever know, but yet, I do what I do and they do what they do. It’s a matter of attitude and the ability to communicate and relate.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: Do you think it helps to grow up the way you grew up to become good at what you do?

MIKE: Oh, I think so. I don’t think there are many people that come on Dr. Phil that have walked a path that I haven’t at least intersected with. I’ve never done drugs or alcohol, but I’ve been around people that have. But people come on there that are struggling financially, I get it.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: There are people on there with family problems, I get it. People that have lived in domestic violence, I get it. There are people that have dreams and have had to overcome obstacles, I get it. Yeah I’m a father, I get that. I’m a parent, I get that. I’ve been married 43 years, I get that. I’ve had a pretty rich life experience wise, it’s not like -- I know psychologists that lived with their parents, went to college, still living with their parents.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: Then went to masters and Ph.D programs, still living with their parents, and then moved out, hung out their shingle, and started giving advice. They’ve never lived on their own. They went to bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D, and then went out and started giving advice to people. I’m like, are you kidding me?

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: You’ve never been to the mall by yourself.

MIKE: Yeah, as counselors we always say where’s your street cred? You know, you don’t have any street credit in your own life --

DR. PHIL: Seriously. And they’re giving advice, they’re academicians. They’ve read it all, but they’ve never been mugged.

MIKE: Right. Or traumatized.

DR. PHIL: Yeah.

MIKE: Or had to go through their own resilience.

DR. PHIL: Yeah they’ve never run out of gas. Had to figure out, I mean had to chance a flat tire.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: I mean, I’ve been mugged, I’ve run out of gas, I’ve had to change a flat tire, I’ve had to come up with some way to eat today with zero money. I mean, I’ve been there, I know that. And I don’t decry that, I’m not whining about it. I hear these people come on and say well, you know, I’m -- you call me a moocher living with my parents, I cant’ get a job. That’s not true. Anybody can get a job anywhere, any day. I’ve lived on the street, I never was on the street where I didn’t have a job every day. You can get a job every day.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: I would just go down the street, walk in, say you need somebody to do some work? No we don’t. Come on.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: You’re telling me you don’t have a store room back there that doesn’t look like a cyclone went through it that doesn’t need organizing?

MIKE: Yeah, everyone does.

DR. PHIL: Well, actually, now that you mention it -- when can you start? I’ve already started, I’m working selling you on giving me a job.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: Well all right, come back here. Look, can you straighten all this up? Yes I can. They come back two hours later. Are you interested in how much you’re making? I figure it’s more than I was making before I came in here, so hopefully you’ll treat me right. And I -- I had a job. Can you come back tomorrow? Sure, I’ll be here tomorrow.

MIKE: How many jobs have you had?

DR. PHIL: Oh, hundreds.

MIKE: Hundreds.

DR. PHIL: I mean literally, because sometimes I worked a day at a time when I was just trying -- the only thing I ever asked was can you pay me today?

MIKE: Right. So literally hundreds of jobs.

DR. PHIL: (LAUGHS): Not at the end of the week, can you pay me today, because if you pay me at the end of the week I don’t eat til the end of the week.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: But that was when I was a teenager. Everybody does it when they’re a teenager, unless they’re lazy.

MIKE: Yeah. Not everyone.

DR. PHIL: Well --

MIKE: Some people do.

DR. PHIL: Unless you’re lazy.

MIKE: So, just because I think this is a great story you’ve shared me before and will kind of round out your family, is your dad went to become a psychologist.

DR. PHIL: Right.

MIKE: You guys actually ended up working together.

DR. PHIL: We worked in the same building.

MIKE: Same building.

DR. PHIL: I wouldn’t say that we ever did anything together.

MIKE: But I remember you telling me, um, that you helped him with his exams.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, there was a sunset law in Texas where for a long time you didn’t have to be licensed, and then they passed a law where you did, and he had been out of school for years.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: When they passed the law, he had been out of school for a long time and then have to go back and take an academic test, it’s very, very difficult. He had to sit for that exam and he had been out, oh gosh, ten twelve years, something like that. So to prepare him for the exam, uh, he was just lost. So I got all of his textbooks from his Ph.D program and I read really fast. I can’t add two and two and get five every time but I do read really fast, so I got all of his textbooks and read them and outlined them and then I tutored him for like three or four months before he took the exam then he went down and took it and passed it.

MIKE: Wow.

DR. PHIL: But then…at that point I’d completed the curriculum for the Ph.D program before I ever started the undergraduate curriculum --

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: -- in psychology, so I’d already done the Ph.D program before I started the undergraduate program. So that was really easy, when I went to do that.

MIKE: That’s amazing, that you did that.

DR. PHIL: Well you just read, and read the stuff and --

MIKE: Do you remember your first client?

DR. PHIL: I do. Yeah.

MIKE: Memorable?

DR. PHIL: Not particularly.

MIKE: (LAUGHS) Got it. And did you uh, did you right away start loving it?


MIKE: No!?

DR. PHIL: No. As soon as I started into traditional practice I thought, this is a really bad idea.

MIKE: Really?

DR. PHIL: I just didn’t have the patience for it, so I immediately started doing other things. I started doing corporate consulting, I -- I did clinical and behavioral medicine at the same time so I had a hospital practice as well as an office practice, and then I did a year’s postdoctoral fellowship in forensic psychology, so I did legal work. So I did a lot of different things to keep from getting really bored.

MIKE: Bored, yeah.

DR. PHIL: I just didn’t have the patience for patients.

MIKE: (LAUGHS) That’s a good one, actually.

DR. PHIL: I mean, to just sit in an office every day, and I really respect people that do it --

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: -- because I think they’re the absolute heart of the mental health profession.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: Those that sit with people in the privacy of their office and unpack the things that they need to unpack and help them get a map through the maze of life. I think they’re the absolute backbone of the mental health profession. That’s just not me.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: So, immediately when I got into practice I spent about a week doing that, said oh my God -- uh, this is -- I’m not gonna -- so I started calling on some of the businesses in town and started doing leadership training, management training, goals acquisition training, stress management in the workplace, things like that. And got -- it was very successful part of what I did immediately. And then I started doing legal work as well, so I had a very varied practice early on.

MIKE: What, so change of topics. One of the things I’ve been wanting to ask you and I admire about you, is, and everyone says they have it, everyone says they are this. And that is that they’re loyal, but if everyone was loyal life would certainly look a lot different and you’ve had the same camera guy for 18 plus years, executive producer. Like I’ve seen the people in your life who are consistent. So can you talk a little bit about what loyalty means to you?

DR. PHIL: Well I define loyalty different than I think most people do.

MIKE: Okay.

DR. PHIL: I don’t think I’m some paragon of loyalty compared to other people, I just define it differently. I think most people are loyal to their need for someone. I mean, if you really break it down, and this sounds very cynical but most people if someone fills a need in their life, um, then they will be loyal to them while that need exists.


DR. PHIL: And I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad. But if they fill a role in each other’s life, the reason we always, army buddies will say we’ll get together in twenty years, or when you go to college you feel like those are friends for life. But actually they’re people who you knew for a short period of time, not very well, a long time ago. And, those aren’t really lifelong relationships. Very few of them persist throughout your life.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL Very few of them do. And even though they were very good relationships while you had them, because you had a common goal, you had a common need for each other at the time and you had each other’s back, at the time, you needed each other at the time -- and so there was a common bond that held you together at the time.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: But then you go different directions and you don’t fill a need in each other’s life, and it’s not that you betray each other it’s just there’s no longer a common need so you go different directions. Um --

MIKE: That’s almost like transactional loyalty, so to speak.

DR. PHIL: Yeah. Yeah it’s just while you’re there, um, you’re a good friend and you’re honest and trustworthy and all while you’re there but it’s environmental, it’s situational.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: I think most people are loyal, I think that’s how most people probably live out loyalty. Um, and when there’s no longer a need, then that kind of goes by the wayside and I -- I try not to be that way. Um, so and I have a lot of friends that have been friends for 45 or 50 years.

MIKE: What is that line for you? And do you recommend for people who like, who when does one know then their line’s crossed? Or what advice do you have? Like I can think of friends, right, who will say I’m getting together with them and they’ll chronically be 45 minutes late. Right? People I care about I don’t really need anything from them, I just love spending time with them. And, sometimes I’ll have a brief moment where I’ll be like, they don’t respect me, they’re 45 minutes late. When, what is that line --

DR. PHIL: There’s actually research on why people are chronically late.

MIKE: What is it?

DR. PHIL: They really think they’re so important that they can’t leave where they are or he world will fall off its axis. And, they think that there’s a time warp. That time suspends for them. Traffic will open like the red sea, that where it takes everybody else fifteen minutes to get somewhere, thirty minutes to get somewhere, they’ll do it in seven.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: But they really think they’re so important that they can’t leave where they are.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: To get where they’re going because they’re just so important they just have to stay there, they can’t leave cause nobody can get by without them.

MIKE: So what type of conversation would you suggest to someone like me, who has a friend who’s late? Like how do you manage that?

DR. PHIL: Tell them about this conversation.

MIKE: (LAUGHS) Dr. Phil says…

DR. PHIL: And that’s people that are chronically late. Everybody’s late. Look, you take a trip from A to B and it averages 40 minutes so you allow 45 and on a given day there’s a wreck, takes you an hour and a half. Tha happens to everybody. I’m talking about people who are chronically late.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: They’re chronically late. They’re just so narcissistic they think they can’t leave because they’re too important to leave.

MIKE: Got it.

DR. PHIL: That’s what the research indicates.

MIKE: So for most, or for people’s friendships, what advice do you have with somebody determining whether or not somebody is loyal to them?

DR. PHIL: I just think you need to be aware of how people are. I trust people, based on how much I trust myself to deal with what they do. Like, I’ve got friends I trust 100% at a certain level, but 0% at another level.

MIKE: Explain.

DR. PHIL: Well like I’ve got tennis friends. I trust them 100% as tennis friends, I trust them 100% to show up every time that we schedule a game, to be there on time.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: To play hard, to be a good sport, to not cheat, to not whine, to not pout, to not be a bad sport. They’re good players, they’re good sports, they’re reliable, they show up. I trust them 100% as tennis friends. But I don’t do business with them, I’ve never been to their homes. I don’t have a relationship with them beyond that.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: We’re tennis friends. It’s not that I wouldn’t. It’s just I don’t know them beyond that so in that context I trust them 100%.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: Would I do business with them? I don’t know, because I haven’t watched them, gathered data on them to make attributions to them on whether or not they’re somebody I would do business with or not. Um, whether I would let them watch my grandkids or not. I don’t know that about them because I haven’t gathered data about them, so I think I trust people to the extent that I have information about them.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: And I trust myself to handle whatever they are gonna do. I -- there’s a story, and I’ve mentioned this before because it’s a true story that I’ll never forget, but I was buying an airplane one time from a guy, and the guy was crooked as a barrel of snakes. The guy -- he had to screw his socks on in the morning. I mean, this guy was just -- he was absolutely --

MIKE: Slime.

DR. PHIL: He could hide behind a corkscrew, this guy was absolutely a crook.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: And my friend said, how could you buy an airplane from this guy? You know he’s a snake. And nothing he says is going to be the truth. And I said because I trust myself to know he’s a crook, and I trust myself to do an independent evaluation of this airplane. I’m not going to rely on everything he says.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: It would be the same if I found this airplane parked out in the middle of the desert. I’m gonna evaluate it completely independent, I trust myself to evaluate the situation independent of him. I know he’s a snake, I’m not gonna believe anything that he says and I’m going to evaluate the airplane totally independently.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: And I did and I owned the airplane for years, it was a great airplane. And I didn’t listen to a thing he said. I trusted myself, to discern what was going on.

MIKE: Yeah, and it sounds like maybe people bucket the word friends instead of looking at the types of friends, the types of friendships in that bucket, because everyone’s different where people --

DR. PHIL: Yeah.

MIKE: That’s not how I operate in friendships, but it’s the context in which the friendship operates.

DR. PHIL: Yeah. And it doesn’t mean that my tennis friends --

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: -- who are listening to this, I’m sure, think they’ve been relegated to the bottom of the barrel. That’s not the bottom of the barrel, by the way, because I spend a lot of time with those people. But it’s not that I wouldn’t go to another level of friendship with them, I just haven’t. And in thinking about it, they’re the same way with me. They don’t drop their kids off for me to watch.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: They don’t give me their money to manage.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: We just don’t know each other beyond that.

MIKE: And do you feel that once you moved to LA and your profile changed that just the types of interactions people had with you were different in terms of friendships, like you had to be more mindful or?

DR. PHIL: Well, maybe more frequently, but I’ve always been um, I’ve always been an employer and I’ve always been fairly high profile in that regard so I’ve always had people that, you had to watch out if people wanted something or they had an agenda from you.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: But real friendships are not situation-specific, that’s what I’m saying. Loyalty, real loyalty, is not situation-specific. I’ll give you a good example. When, when we were putting together Dr. Phil, Oprah and I originally planned to do Dr. Phil in Chicago at Harpo Studios. It was gonna, it was a studio and it was gonna have the Oprah Show and Dr. Phil. Um, but then when we got into it we thought, you know what? That’s gonna really put a strain on Harpo Studios because it wasn’t really built to do two major productions.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: It was built to do one. So we thought, we need another production partner. So we started interviewing like Warner Bros. and Paramount, and different people. And I met this guy named Greg Meidel. He was president of Paramount at the time. So we became friends right away, we just clicked, we had some things in common, we liked each other. And we got along. But I’d only been at Paramount maybe three or four years when they did a reorganization and he left Paramount and went to Fox. So if our relationship was situation-specific, it would have ended when our common bond of Dr. Phil, the production, ended.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: But that was fourteen years ago.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: And I played tennis with him three days last week.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: Uh, 18 years later we’re still friends. Our families know each other, we’ve taken vacations together, we’ve traveled together, we’ve just been friends for 19 years now. It was a relationship that was no situation-specific. It was not based on our common need of each other, it transcended that right away. In fact the day he left Paramount, so our common need for each other ended the day he left Paramount, we played tennis that day.

MIKE: Right.

McGRAW: And that weekend and it’s never, it has never missed a bit since then.

MIKE: Yeah.

DR. PHIL: So the relationship was not need-based or situation-specific and that’s what I mean. A true friendship where there’s true loyalty is not situation specific.

MIKE: And I ask you because I feel every time I’m around you there’s a new person that you’re like hey, this is Barbara, from 20 years ago. I’ve never met someone in my life honestly, and I’ve been around all over the world, that has as many long-standing relationships as you. That’s why I ask you about loyalty, because I actually, I look at you and I want that. I want to have relationships that last 25 years. And you have so many of them. So many.

DR. PHIL: Well that’s a blessing, you know. You get people in your life that stick around. Scott Madsen’s a good example. He worked with me for years and years until, what? Six, seven years ago? And then he retired. Moved back to Texas. I talked to him yesterday. Our relationships is not based on a common need. It’s -- we’re still as involved as we were when we saw each other every day.

MIKE: Do you think that the industry of entertainment is much different, in terms of -- or is it the same across the board?

DR. PHIL: I think it’s the same across the board.

MIKE: Got it.

DR. PHIL: Yeah. I think it may be a little different here because it, this is a different situation. Like if you work on a movie, the day you start you’re working yourself out of a job. You start working on a movie the day you start you’re working yourself out of a job because it’s gonna end, you’re gonna be out of work.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: It’s different in that regard. I don’t think any other industry is that way.

MIKE: I have one more big topic to cover with you. Um, which I’ve been curious to ask you. What do people not realize when they sue? Because honestly, you hear about it so much it’s a litigious culture. What do people not realize, happens when they sue?

DR. PHIL: Well I do think this is a litigation happy society. I mean, now, anybody gets fired or let go from a job, their reflex reaction is to sue. Oh you fired me? I’m gonna sue you. Really? Uhm, and you have lawyers out there who are hungry for cases so they’re indiscriminate in what they take and they wind up bankrupt because they take cases they shouldn’t take and, I was in the litigation arena for years and years and years and people would come to me and say we wanna sue.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: We want to sue this person, we want to sue that person. And the first question I always ask them is, okay. Let’s sit down but before, we can talk about your case, we can talk about you suing. But the first thing that we can talk about is how you could wind up being a defendant.

MIKE: Huh.

DR. PHIL: Before you sue, let’s talk about how you could wind up being a defendant. They go what do you mean, I’m the one suing!?

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: No you’re the one that’s starting the suit.

MIKE: You’re starting the fight.

DR. PHIL: Yeah. But let’s figure out how you can wind up being a defendant, because if you think the people you sue are not going to countersue, that they’re just going to sit there and let you start taking potshots at them and they’re not going to, uh, come back -- they’re gonna get in the ring and not throw any punches, you’re wrong. So let’s find out how you can wind up being a defendant, or let’s figure out how this can be declared by the court to be frivolous or without merit and you can wind up owing them their attorney fees for having an harassment of them.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: And listen, everybody’s suit sounds good when they’re the only one telling it. A lot of lawsuits have been won in a conference room.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: But when they’re in a courtroom and they’re subjected to cross-examination and this thing called what is it? Evidence. When all that starts coming out, then they look a whole lot different.


DR. PHIL: And so I think people have this reflex of well I’ll sue their ass. Yeah, you better think about that because saying it is one thing, doing it’s another, prosecuting it is another. Ultimately collecting a judgment is another.

MIKE: How long have you seen lawsuits go on that don’t get settled?

DR. PHIL: Fifteen, twenty years.

MIKE: Fifteen, twenty years. And how are people typically emotionally when they decide to sue? When they’re going through this process?

DR. PHIL: Oh they’re aggrieved, they’re self-righteous, they’re wronged, they’re all of these things have happened and they want justice. Uh, and listen, there are legitimate lawsuits, but these need to be made after careful consideration and the best thing that can happen to a defendant is if the plaintiff gets a good lawyer. You don’t want a plaintiff with a bad lawyer.

MIKE: And how does someone figure out a good or bad lawyer?

DR. PHIL: Well, you do your homework. You know, success begets success.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: When I was in the litigation arena, and we defended you know mostly corporate clients, you know Fortune 500 companies, we always hoped for a good lawyer on the other side.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: Because a good lawyer on the other side would recognize early on the flaws in a lawsuit, whereas a bad lawyer would not recognize it and so you’d have to drag his or her ass for five or six years before they figured out they were going bankrupt, losing their firm, and you had to put up with that before they figured out I should never have filed this lawsuit, should never have taken this case. You don’t want the court in your life. I’m telling you, it’s just a bad, bad thing. It’s like, you know, people that get into custody fights and they’re gonna go down and get the court involved, you don’t want to do that. You want to sit down and work this out among yourself, because when you get the court involved in your family, you have no idea what they’re going to do.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: You have no idea what they’re going to do. You think you know. But you don’t. You could have a lady judge and she could have a daughter, whose husband jerked her around the week before you wind up down there and there you are a man and she could just have a chip on her shoulder and take the hide off of you. Or you could get a man judge and his daughter got jerked around.

MIKE: Right.

DR. PHIL: Or whatever, they’re just human beings. That’s not King Solomon sitting up there, that’s just a person. That’s just a person that has feelings and thoughts and emotions and they, they apply the law but they also have to use their own personal judgement and their emotions come into it and you never know what they’re going to do.

MIKE: Because you see that a lot in divorces, too.

DR. PHIL: Oh my God, you do not want the court in your family. That is, I tell people that all the time. And no, they want to go down there and no, I’m going to file for custody, I’m going to get full custody. Well yeah, probably not. You just don’t want to do that, you want to work these things out between you if you can.

MIKE: And that would be, if people wanted to work it out and not get legal you’d either get someone in their church or a mediator, or some form of someone that can help resolve it quickly.

DR. PHIL: Right. Stay out of the court system, get a mediator. Get an arbitrator, get your pastor, get somebody that’s objective to sit down and then listen to what they have to say. Someone you both trust.

MIKE: Well we have this thing called the Universe Decides -- where three random questions will be fired at you. We want to -- not too deep --

DR. PHIL: So it is our universe or another universe?

MIKE: Um. (LAUGHS). Exactly. So what you do is just spin the wheel. The question, you read out loud.

DR. PHIL: I moved it off the -- um, okay, so now what do I do here.

MIKE: So the question is bad food. If you go to a restaurant and they have bad food, do you complain about it or not?

DR. PHIL: Bad food how?

MIKE: Doesn’t taste good.

DR. PHIL: Do I complain about it? Usually not, I just won’t eat it.

MIKE: Got it, so no complaint.

DR. PHIL: Listen, I don’t want to complain to somebody that’s going to go behind closed doors with my plate and then bring it back.

MIKE: So maybe order another item.

DR. PHIL: Because you don’t know what they’re going to do with it when they go behind that closed door. What are they going to do to it back there, so I was just like oh you don’t like it? No it’s fine, I would just also like to have some chicken fingers. (LAUGHS). Something that’s been 180 degrees within the last twenty minutes.

MIKE: So Dr. Phil does not complain about bad food at a restaurant, I’m spinning for you. The next. When have you been most embarrassed or an embarrassing moment for Dr. Phil?

DR. PHIL: I’d say this podcast.


DR. PHIL: Most embarrassing moment? Oh, let’s see. Recently, I think it’s something current. Um, I ambushed Meghan Trainor on Carpool Karaoke and had to sing in the back seat. That’s pretty embarrassing because I can’t sing at all.

MIKE: I saw that, that was an amazing moment.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, it was pretty --

MIKE: It went viral.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, I had trouble singing. I’m not a good singer.

MIKE: So that was embarrassing.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, that was embarrassing.

MIKE: And the last question is: what do you, Dr. Phil, TV binge watch?

DR. PHIL: Oh. Well, we like to binge watch British crime shows.

MIKE: I thought you were going to say the British Baking Contest.

DR. PHIL: No. Bristish crime shows.

MIKE: I’m like, that’s amazing. British crime shows. So you binge watch British crime shows.

DR. PHIL: Yeah, like we watched Bodyguard which is a British crime show on Acorn, which is really good. So if you haven’t watched it it’s good, so we’ll watch something like that.

MIKE: Got it. Okay, great. Well thank you Dr. Phil for coming on the Coach Mike podcast.

DR. PHIL: All right. Appreciate it.

MIKE: I appreciate it.