Season 1, Episode 3
Embrace the Story You’re Currently In
Mike Ganino is this weekes special guest on the Press The Damn Button Podcast Mike is the host of the Mike Drop Moment podcast, keynote speaker, storyteller and much much more! Mike believes there are 3 types of stories; the ones we tell ourselves, the ones we share with our audiences, and the ones that our audiences remember.
“Three types of stories: ones we tell ourselves, the ones we share with our audience and the ones that our audiences remember.”
Full podcast transcript available here:
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Let’s see if three times the charm Pressing the damn button who gives that advice? Why would someone want to press the damn book?
Speaker 2: (00:13)
Well, at least we practice pressing it three times.
Speaker 1: (00:16)
I did. I know. It’s like the repeat, repeat. Oh, I’ll look at that. Even see us live on the, on the Facebooks. Um,
Speaker 2: (00:24)
So far, so far, so good
Speaker 1: (00:27)
New home studio. Although I tested the internet, um, I also added a channel that we were pushing out too, which that’s always like an extra variable. So I removed that variable and reset my router. I do see people that are live, so what’s up, everybody. Thanks for bearing with us. Uh, I always tease people as someone that’s in tech that, um, majority of the time the air is between the keyboard and the chair. Um, and probably more so than anything else. That’s not, that’s probably the case as well. Here is something I was doing somewhere, but, um, we’re going to record a episode with my good buddy Mike here. So we’re going to jump back into it. Um, I will be able to see your comments and everything that are watching live. So I see, uh, Jennifer’s watching live what’s up, Jen. Um, and yeah, that’s, hopefully let’s see if this, uh, this holds two forests and we’ll get through this.
Speaker 1: (01:15)
So thanks for jumping in. Thanks for everybody watching. Thanks for sharing. And, uh, this will be a lot of fun if it, uh, you know, if we can make it all work, we’ll come back to another episode of press the damn button. My name is Brian Banzo, founder of ice, social fans, and I have my good friend, Mike [inaudible] with me. And for those that aren’t watching this live and you listen to the podcast, we’ve had to press the damn button three times, and I’m a big believer in perfection. The fairy tale control is an illusion and when you screw up, admit it, and this is me owning it on a show called press the damn button. So we’re kicking it off a little, you know, a little bit of hard truth is that, you know, the only thing you can guarantee with live video is that something will go wrong, but you gotta just keep pressing that damn button.
Speaker 1: (01:57)
And with that being said, we are powered by restream.io, which we are using the restream live studio here, where I just sent Mike a link. He’s able to jump in on us to record it, push it out to YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, LinkedIn, all those great channels. Um, you know, it’s the tool that I’m using a hundred percent for all of this broadcasting, which me, for me, it’s really nice being able to just use a browser tool that pushes it out to all the channels I can change and update the titles and the descriptions for each different channel, depending on that audience. I can, even after we’re live, go in and edit the video afterwards, which is a lot of fun. So yes, I see some of our live audience. Cathy says the rule of three for comedy. So we are embracing that. So, um, thanks.
Speaker 1: (02:39)
Restream, uh, check them out if you guys are interested, definitely, uh, you know, a tool that I am really enjoying and I have a video going live tomorrow, uh, on my YouTube channel, breaking down how I’m using it, why I’m using it, um, and some of the value props. So I just check out restream.io/join/ptb, which is press the damn button. So I’m third, time’s a charm. Mike has been a, uh, a model, amazing human for sticking with me here as we kind of go, uh, through the, the nuances of going live and that world. And, you know, for me, you know, bringing on guests and those that listen, the first couple of episodes, my whole piece here is that, you know, press the damn button to me is about amplifying the good people around us. You know, not giving attention to bad news and fake news, but it’s our job to amplify great people doing great things.
Speaker 1: (03:28)
And I’ve been doing a disservice to you, the community, cause I have an amazing network full of great people doing great stuff. And, um, I ran a podcast for, uh, many years. It was a solo podcast cause I didn’t like, um, referencing or managing the, uh, the guest process and booking and all that stuff. And it was just an excuse. So we are fixing that and I am excited cause I have Mike Gambino joining me and Mike has been someone I’ve been thankful enough to, uh, travel with actually our last guest, our first two guests. We actually all three went on vacation together, uh, last summer, which feels like four summers ago because it meant we were traveling and uh, being on the road together. And, uh, Mike is a fellow speaker. He is a, uh, not only a Cornerstore of amazing storytelling, but he is also, um, you know, a good friend and advisor. And he has a very interesting story, which I got to do some research on, um, from acting to restaurants to, uh, you know, dabbling a little bit of everything. And you know, for me being the, um, no real niche guy, it’s fun to have a no real niche guy on the show, but I would argue that Mike you’ve been able to jump into different niches of kind of along the way, which I think makes it even more exciting. So Mike, thanks for jumping in.
Speaker 3: (04:43)
Thanks for having me. That’s a, you know, what’s funny is always when you, when you do these kinds of things, there’s the bio that people read that everyone clearly knows you wrote yourself. And so you sit there like me, how kind, but you actually, those are your own words. I didn’t write those. So thank you for all of that kindness coming my way. Of course, of course.
Speaker 1: (05:02)
So you’re, you’re the host of the mic drop moment or my drop a podcast there. Um, definitely check it out guys. Great. Uh, podcasts that you have going on. He was also featured as one of my top 10 favorite speaker websites of all time when Mike did this rebrand of his website, uh, you know, I walked my own beat. I preach be yourself. I kind of have my own style or lack thereof, whichever way you want to go with it. Um, and I try really hard to convey that. And when you go to Mike’s, when, you know, get to know Mike and you get to go to his website, it’s, it’s literally embodies his brand, his story, you know, as you scroll through the pages, it kind of just builds, you know, takes you on that journey. And so I kind of want to dive into that journey, Mike, and, you know, I, I actually was up and, you know, doing my research, although we’re friends, I wanted to see what the interwebs had about you and all that side. Um, and I ended up on a backstage.com website with a, with a beautiful mugshot, uh, or I wouldn’t say mugshot, I’d say portfolio shots, um, where it’s detailing some of the, um, acting credits and some of the background there on that side. Give us a little bit of, uh, Mike and Nino actor, you know, seconds to give us that, that origin story there let’s say early twenties of, of you. Uh, and I mean some beautiful pictures for those that want to see it.
Speaker 3: (06:23)
I don’t even remember what is on that backstage page, a backstage, by the way, if you don’t know, is, uh, an industry for theater and for, for a screen acting TV commercials, it’s a place a, it’s a place where you can go look at, um, look at auditions that are coming up and there’s articles and things that you can have a profile there. So, uh, I think the pictures on there are probably mostly from when I was like 30 though, 33 34,
Speaker 1: (06:50)
This is your age range is 25 to 40. So, um, yeah. And you know, and it has, um, you know, commercial acting, hosting and improv. It has a little bit on that side. I think it was fun because I, you know, it’s, once you get on page four of Google with someone that has a unique enough name, um, it can get creative. Right. Which is,
Speaker 3: (07:08)
Yeah, that’s the thing about Mike Guineans, you know, it’s funny. So the commercial acting is I did, I lived in Chicago back when I was doing a ton of improv work and working in the restaurant industry, those go together, by the way more than most people think that like improv and restaurant, how does that work? And it’s like, well, you gotta pay the bills and improv didn’t pay not until you make it. Unlike TV, you improv is a skillset. You work on, you don’t really get paid for doing it. And so I was, um, I would audition for commercials all the time and, and I’m 40 now. And I, and I typically get that. I look younger. And so when I was 21 and 22, I really looked young. And so I was in Chicago doing improv and I thought I’ll audition for commercials. And there were a lot of banking ones.
Speaker 3: (07:50)
I never was a good fit, but I did this string of commercials for, uh, for, um, personal injury law firms. And so I was always like the injured high school student who was like, T-boned in the car. Like I borrowed my mom’s car and I was just headed to the grocery store. And out of nowhere, this man came along and blew the stop sign. And so I would play these like with a neck brace on. So I did several of these for like, you know, very low budget, Chicago, uh, Chicago things. I did one once for a Thai restaurant where I was a happy customer talking about like the authentic food and my go to spot to get Boba tea, my big claims to fame back then.
Speaker 1: (08:32)
Nice. So I, you know, and I see, so, you know, it’s funny when I was, you know, doing that and you and I had talked about this in the past, but you know, you were, uh, you performed at the world famous second city, and then we have upright citizens brigade and the improv Olympics, and yeah, there you go. You’re representing, yes, I love it. And you know, my, the, actually a lot of this podcast and my current podcast for the last couple of years, um, has been armchair expert with Dax Shepard as the host and Dax went into detail early on in that episode, on his show about second city. And for those of us that live on the East coast, or aren’t part of the LA scene or Hollywood or acting or comedy, um, although I work on the stage today, uh, second city was something that I like I had heard of mentioned that it didn’t really know.
Speaker 1: (09:20)
And then he went through like a series of guests that were all part of second city and like talk about the different tribes in this like crazy culture. Not only that you have to be all in, but you’re like pretty much just, you know, pause the rest of your life and kind of dive in there. Um, so tell us a little bit, you know, and, and, you know, for me, this is something that I love because I think, you know, where you’re at now and where that background, we always have kind of a fun journey to get there. But second city, like, I mean, I saw a couple of people that are watching live mentioned, you know, being an actor. Um, I tried out for, uh, you know, thespians in high school for me. I was that that kid was like hockey, baseball, light computers wanted to act.
Speaker 1: (09:59)
Um, and I remember, you know, I was, my first couple additions definitely was told no. And, uh, wasn’t great at learning no at all at a younger age. Um, and you know, I was the kid to get like visibly upset, um, losing a sporting a game, even though I was playing, you know, I put, how about eight 80 hockey games in the season? I would, you know, it would crush me. Right. And it took me a while to get that. And I recently heard something, um, that hit me really home was that like the greatest actors are the ones that learned how to accept no, to accept failure and keep on going on. And so I’m curious from your like second city side, like, how did you get in there? And then what would you say you kind of learned from that, that you still take in 20 years later?
Speaker 3: (10:44)
The second city thing for me happened because I moved, I dropped out of college. I went to college at Drake university in Des Moines, Iowa. I was studying, uh, journalism and psychology. I was, I don’t know, I’m going to be like a broadcast journalist talking about psychology. Um, and so I dropped out of school. I came out of the closet. It was just a lot of stuff to deal with. And so I dropped out of school in my second year and it kind of bopped around a little bit between family members. I lived in North Carolina with an aunt for a little bit, lived back at home with my grandparents in Arizona for a little bit. And it was like waiting tables at pizza hut. And my grandma was like, you gotta get the hell outta here. Like, you’ve got you. You can not stay here in this small town, like really, really small town.
Speaker 3: (11:27)
You’ve got like pizza hut was the place people went to on prom. That’s how small it was. So she’s like, you gotta get outta here. And I was like, I know. And she’s like, well, what do you want to do? And I was like, I just, I want to go see things. I want to go explore the world. Cause I grew up not being able to do that. You know, I’m, I’m a kid who was super, I didn’t have a lot growing up. And so I wanted to go see the world. And so she said, why don’t you, why don’t you become a flight attendant? So he did that and that’s how I landed in Chicago. And then once I was in Chicago, I was like, Oh, I have a little bit of time as a flight attendant. That’s where I got based. So I had a little bit of time.
Speaker 3: (12:01)
And so I thought, you know what, I’m going to start to, uh, I’ll start to audition. I’ve always wanted to be an actor. So I started going to auditions and, uh, I wasn’t really getting anything, nothing was really popping. So I started taking some classes at a few of the improv theaters and there’s a bunch of improv theaters in Chicago. It’s the home, the birthplace really of improv as we know it. And so I started taking classes and eventually, um, took some writing and performing classes at second city and worked all the way through the program there and continuing to go to other schools in Chicago as well, IO and annoyance and just small street theaters and some really cool things like that. And you know, at the end of the day, like improv is not about getting a, you’re not going to get, you’re not going to get famous, doing improv and you’re not going to earn any money doing improv.
Speaker 3: (12:48)
It’s really a skill set to help you get somewhere. And so that’s what I realized. And all the time I was working, I did the flight attendant thing for a year. And then I left that to go. I didn’t leave that I got fired. Like everyone did because of nine 11. So I got let go of that job because of nine 11. And so then I was like, well, what do I know how to do? I live in Chicago? I have rent. I have bills. I’m type one diabetic. I’ve got medical things to pay. What the heck am I going to do? So it’s like, I know how to work in a restaurant. So I got a job at a restaurant again, and then was doing improv and restaurant work at the same time and did that for like years, like 10 years. I did both.
Speaker 3: (13:22)
And I realized a lot of times the things I was learning and improv were very helpful in the restaurant world, that it was able to take ideas from how to lead, how to respond to issues, um, how to create new things, new menu items, new teams, new markets. And so I was much more successful on the restaurant side of things, eventually becoming a chief operating officer and starting, uh, building out on my own, this concept with this, with a business partner that we sold to a private equity firm in, in 2013. And then after that, I was like, okay, what do I want to do next? And my husband who grew up in Chicago, I grew up in California fish. And he said, I want to live in, I want to live in the sun. I’ve lived my whole life in Chicago. I want to live there.
Speaker 3: (14:02)
So we, we took a, we took the money we got from the earnings of the sale and moved out to LA. And initially I thought like, I’m going to get a TV show. I’m going to be like a host of a food and travel show. And I don’t know what I thought that you just like, hang out on sunset Boulevard and someone’s going to come along and be like, you you’re a star, a good friend of mine. Shannon O’Dowd doubt is a really well known TV show, host trainer. And she’s been on QVC and everything. She works with some of the top people you see on media and, and hosting on, on E. So I met her and did a class with her and, and now we’ve become really, really good friends. And she said, we’ve got to have a brand that you can show host today are either like D list celebrities who, you know, will do it for a hundred grand or something.
Speaker 3: (14:51)
Or there are people with really strong brands. So I was like, I’m going to brand myself the food and wine expert. And so that started getting me consulting gigs. It was restaurants and hotels and concepts that wanted to do what I had done, which is grows something little into a much bigger brand. And so I started getting consulting gigs and I’m awful echo, like if I ever say, I’m going to send you something, you ain’t come get it. There’s not landing page for you to go get it yourself. But if you don’t force me to send it to you on the call, you ain’t ever going to get it. I was like, I’m going to be out of business as a consultant. It’s because I was writing people’s training and developing their like market expansion plans. And it was like, I was doing it the night before, you know, and it was like, Oh, I really should do something else.
Speaker 3: (15:32)
So I thought maybe I could sell workshops to these people. And then I’m just there. And when I leave, I leave and then that worked and then someone was doing work. This is how I got into speaking someone, uh, left the company that hired me to do workshop. And it was running an association and said, Hey, can you come keynote our big event? And I was like, sure. Yeah. And she was like, okay. The honorarium is like 5,000 bucks. And I thought I had to pay them that shit. I don’t like, I think that they want me to give them $5,000. Cause I think they think I’m going to sell stuff. Right. And so that’s my fee, my placement fee, because I never really seen, I didn’t really know about this world of coaching and stuff like that. So I was like, I don’t know.
Speaker 3: (16:10)
And so I looked it up honorarium and I was like, they want to give me $5,000. I took all damn day for free. And I was like, this is great. And then I thought, well, this is perfect. This now this is what I do. People are just going to pay me all the time. I learned it takes a lot more work than that, but, um, but that’s how I ended up there. And I think the big thing that, that the acting taught me for all of those years and you, you nailed it, great people, not necessarily if they’re great, but people who make it as actors are people who are really good at auditioning. That’s the real skillset. Not enough people learn that in, in school, they go and get BFAs or they take classes all the time. They take improv classes or acting classes. And what you realize is you’re not going to get any of the gigs. If you don’t know how to control your nervousness, you don’t know how to control your excitement in the audition. You’ll never get the job. And so what I learned, just like you’re saying about rejection is that’s the job. The job is going out there and making offers that’s the job,
Speaker 1: (17:09)
You know? And it’s funny cause the first time you and I really ever connected in person, you were up there at an event that you and I were part of a mastermind and there was a conversation about rehearsal and the difference between, you know, a speaker that, you know, just kind of goes up there from the seat of their pants and then, and kind of breaking down what a true professional was and the art of performance. And before you got to the point, you were like, and some of you are not in your head, like yeah, that’s what everybody else does. And I’m in the background, like nodding my head, like yeah, like, yeah, that’s what he, that’s what I do. I’m not unicorn, I’m unique. And you’re like, but you’re not a unicorn and unique, or you kind of went through that. And I thought it was really interesting and they kind of link this back before we get a little bit into that piece.
Speaker 1: (17:47)
You know, the, the flight attendants, you know, restaurants, um, acting improv, you know, and then also even, you know, coming out and then, you know, leaving, moving away from home. So much of that is like, and this is like a pet peeve of mine. Like I hate when someone’s like failure, you, you must fail to be successful. Cause I’m like telling people they have to fail is like horrible because we forget to say like, failure sucks. It hurts. It’s a kick. I mean, this is our, we, we tried to go live three times on this. Like I don’t, I’ve done 3,500 live streams. I was frustrated as hell 15 minutes ago because I couldn’t figure out what was going on because something was failing. Right. And, and I’m curious, you know, like that idea of like being good at auditioning, but also learning the restaurants.
Speaker 1: (18:28)
Like there’s, there’s something there to, to being able to be confident in that you’re going to be able to reinvent, but also be confident that your skillset will adapt to whatever you’re doing, because you’re like, even as you said, like, you know, I know you as, you know, the wine element, right. We’ve we, you definitely know your foods, you know, your wine, uh, your husband’s an amazing chef as well. Um, there’s lots of those pieces, but I think a lot of those things are, you know, it kinda goes into like you not being a consultant, which we also have like that in comment, in the sense of, um, you know, being able to be creative adapt, but also, you know, limiting our, some of our skillsets that what other people have some curious, like, as you were growing, let’s say your through your twenties, did you start to identify yourself as someone that was, uh, a risk taker, someone that was willing to do whatever to be successful? Or is that something you kind of now looking back and be like, wow, that was really good. That, did you recognize that in yourself, in your twenties and maybe early thirties?
Speaker 3: (19:25)
I don’t, I don’t think so. You know, what’s interesting is like, I’m actually quite anxious. Like I’m quite anxious about things. I doubt myself a lot. I think part of my growing up relatively poor, I had teen parents, um, you know, welfare, food stamps, the whole thing. I think that there’s a, there’s a, you know, there’s times where like that history makes me doubt myself. That makes me doubt what I can do. And so I’m very anxious. A lot of times about the things I want to do. I second guess I have to go, I’m chronically one of those people that goes and asks advice for all these different things. And at the same time, I also trust myself to figure things out because I think that I always had to, like when I was little, like, we don’t have money for food, we got to figure it out.
Speaker 3: (20:09)
Somehow we don’t have money to go to this thing or we don’t have, we don’t have this or that. And I’ve, I’ve always somehow with the grace and, and support of people around me being able to figure it out. So I learned to trust that part of myself, even if I didn’t trust myself to make the decision. And I think that that, that led me to this level of resourcefulness. My husband always says like one of the most attractive things about me is that I’m incredibly resourceful. Like if I want to figure out how to get somewhere, I usually can. If I want to figure, I mean, I became the ID. I became, I was running wine training for like a huge, great, wonderful restaurant organization with a ton of things. And I have like almost no wine education, but what I realized at the time when I went to this interview, which was like an audition, right, was that they probably didn’t know the people that were interviewing me in the training department probably didn’t know a lot about South American wine.
Speaker 3: (21:03)
Like if I had tried to talk about U S wine or French wine or Italian wine, I would have been skewered by their knowledge. They thought, you know what I’m really obsessed with at 25, I was obsessed with Latin American culture. And so I thought maybe BI can get ahead by the fact that I can pronounce all of these words in Spanish, really, really well. As I grew up Manish and my obsession with the topic, I can just go deeper and they’ll have no idea that like, I didn’t know at the time about burgundy, but I knew it on about mall back in the specific appellations and where it was from. And I got this job, this killer gig as a wine educator, and I had almost no education about wine. Um, so I guess it’s also like fake your way into it, but I didn’t fake it. I went and did the work I needed to do
Speaker 1: (21:49)
Since, since we’ve known each other, I’m gonna jump in here because one of them I’ve identified with you. And I think it actually might go back to even your childhood is you focus very little on what you don’t have and very much on what you have to work with. And I mean, to me that we were on Catalina Island on vacation and you know, that we had, we had our significant others with us, uh, uh, myself, you and Aaron, and we each were blessed to have our, our, our team there. And like, we, we, we were, couldn’t get into the hotel room and we were kind of locked out and it turned into this like wine tasting turned into, like, we got like a local concierge, like to put on this piece. And then like, if I looked at lots of like oral, right, we were both, you know, in the speaking space, you know, March 10th to March 18th, like much like a lot of the world out there today has been disrupted because of what’s going on. And I think
Speaker 3: (22:38)
There’s something core beautiful,
Speaker 1: (22:40)
Phil, your husband was saying. And what you’re kind of looking at is that, like, if you focus more on what you have to work with and less about what you lost or what you don’t have it, you do get that creative juices going.
Speaker 3: (22:52)
I think you do that really well. Also,
Speaker 1: (22:54)
Even in how you would help people tell stories, because I, I believe there’s lots of people that consider themselves great storytellers. I think there’s lots of people that consider themselves great teachers of storytelling. I don’t believe there’s a lot of great people, helping people see the value of storytelling in unique ways, because I’ve one that, like, I remember watching someone dissect Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, and they compared it to like Steve jobs first iPhone. And I remember like blown away. I was like six pages of notes for someone that doesn’t like taking notes. Right. And, uh, and then I went to Nancy Duarte workshop, uh, back in like 2011, 2012. And I left there like amazed at what I didn’t know, and not only the power of story, but like a new appreciation for creativity and that, and that side of it. And I’m curious, like, if you look at your story and I love how, like, you know, even on about page, you know, you tell your story, but you also say, Hey, but let’s focus on it on you.
Speaker 1: (23:50)
But like that ability to always focus on what that opportunity is. I mean, it’s, let’s face it. That’s what restaurants are doing right now. The restaurants that are, are killing it are the ones that have figured out, like, these are the things I’m good at, and I’m going to adapt. I think the speakers that are doing good at right now, it’s not about what you did on stage or even the topic you talked about. It’s like, what were the core things that you delivered and how can you deliver them in a different arena? And I also look at that, even in the sense of like being a flight attendant, right? Like looking at the, how that all kind of works in the idea of like nobody, most people don’t say, like tell the flight attendant, like thanks for a great flight. Thanks for making us safe thing.
Speaker 1: (24:26)
You’re like, I worked at dish network, uh, in college for, you know, uh, you know, people that call in about their TV and no one called up and say, thank you for my TV work 364 days of the year. And today it doesn’t work. Right? Like no one did that. And it takes a different mindset, your life having all the things that have gone on, you know, and the different, you know, I would say good things and bad, you know, judgment and even your journey, like you are very confident. So I know when, uh, when you’re saying, I love that you brought in there that you do have that anxiety that, that kind of, that pulls sometimes. But I also think there’s, there’s also this beautiful confidence in who you are and what you’re doing. And I know I’m curious how that, how you look at that. And then, you know, the book that you wrote, um, where it comes down to culture, how does this all fit into the companies that you’ve worked with with culture? Cause you did it in the restaurant space, but I really loved part of the book being really focused in, you know, changing the mindset, but it room of these core values into their culture. Talk a little bit about how those two kinds of things work together. Well, it’s really,
Speaker 3: (25:28)
You know, I think really all of the things that you just said are, are ultimately about looking at what is true, what is true here, here. And there’s also something really improvisational about that. And I mean, I didn’t, I didn’t take him probably when I was younger, but I’ve always, so it kind of was like a natural thing when I found it later, I guess, but there was this, um, there’s this idea that you have to play the senior in, in the world of improvisational theater. So an improv theater, uh, someone will introduce an idea, you know, maybe Brian comes up and he says like, Hey, um, I haven’t seen you in so long. I miss my brother. I can’t, it doesn’t make good theater. If I deny the fact that he called me his brother and that he hasn’t seen me in a long time and misses me, I have to accept that that’s the truth in this scene.
Speaker 3: (26:12)
Now, I don’t know if the like it, I can do what I want with it, but I have to accept that I’m either his brother fraternity brother is, you know, just like general brother is like biological brother. I have to accept that. It’s true. And I can build off of it. I have to play the scene I’m in versus denying the scene I’m in. And I think that that’s one thing that from like childhood, I really realized. And it’s one of the things when I was consulting with, with some very big brands on company, culture and leadership was we have to play the scene we’re in. So if you sit down to create an eight year culture, which is a lie, you can’t create your, it exists. You can look at it, you can understand it, you can get clear on it and you can make ideas about what you want it to be, but you don’t create it.
Speaker 3: (26:51)
It exists. Uh, people would reach out and say, we’re ready to start creating our culture. And it’s like, no, it’s, they are, let’s look at what is, and what I see happen in that case. And this is true when people are building a brand as a speaker, when they’re starting to look at their own stories is to say, what is already here and what is already true, because it’s going to be so much easier for you to use that what’s here. And what’s true. It’s going to be so much easier for you to use that then to ignore all of the things that are actually true and go and do something new with it. And so for me, that’s kind of, I mean, all the way back to like when I was, when I was a flight attendant and we all got laid off the fire, really, it wasn’t laid off.
Speaker 3: (27:32)
Cause we couldn’t come back to work after nine 11, I could have freaked out. I could have spent all this time, but I said, what is true? Well, what was true is that I know how to make sandwiches. So let me go figure out where I can make sandwiches. And then it created a career seven years. I was at that organization and I just kept asking, I started as like an assistant manager and I ended up being like the head of training and new store openings and opened over a hundred locations because I kept saying, what is true in this current situation? And what do we want to be true next? And how do we map those together? And I see so many people do this with their, with their companies. I see so many new speakers or entrepreneurs do this, where they don’t accept. You have to look and say, what is true now? How do I use that to go to the next place I want to go? And it’s a missing link in so many places because we think I need a clean slate. And there’s
Speaker 1: (28:20)
No, we also think sometimes that like know, cause I’ve always kind of pushed it against the idea. You’re Steve jobs, huge fan of Steve jobs. I even have like my little Steve jobs over my shoulder, like the, well, the shoulder here, I have a little ICEO over my shoulder. Um, but Steve jobs always said like, you know, uh, you know, the whole idea of, you know, it goes into the Henry Ford quote, right? If they would have asked the, then what they wanted, they would’ve said faster horses. He had been at the car, right. And Steve jobs talked a lot about, you know, trying to, um, innovate for the unknown and what people don’t know they want and help them get there. And I think when you get stuck in that way and you start to find success, like I’ve, I’ve done it. I did that very early on and I’ve even found myself doing that over the years where something works and I’m like, well, that’s not what I wanted to be working right now.
Speaker 1: (29:07)
And rather than leaning into that, I would, you know, I would let it go and I would kind of fight against it. Right. And it doesn’t do us favors. And I love her. He said like play the senior end. And I think as you know, I mean, this kind of fits right into our world right now. Right. And I think not only the scene we’re in, but you know, if we look at COVID and we look at, you know, March or February, um, you know, so much of our world, like the idea of just wearing a mask, the, the term social distancing never used or heard right now, it’s on every window, every door that exists every restaurant, but also like, you know, it change not only it’s scary, but it doesn’t have to be scary if you’re willing to kind of not only reinvent, but learn from where, what you’ve been doing.
Speaker 1: (29:48)
Right. And I, and I’ve, I’ve said this a lot is that changes in the result of bad decisions, the result of all decisions. And then you’re able to take all of those things and kind of change in the new, and I’m curious from your standpoint, and, and let’s, let’s kind of bring this into 2020 where we’re at now. You know, I think a lot of us can make the statement. We’re not going back to the bold way, right? Like there’s the, the, the world is no longer the same February, March, April, you know, we’ve everything that’s gone on from black lives matter to COVID too, you know, the disruption across the board with the things that are going on in the world. But yes, I think we can all admit that we’re not going back to the North hall, but I do not know if people are still ready to admit that we need to change for the future.
Speaker 1: (30:29)
Right? Like we’re, we’re very comfortable saying, Hey, we’re not, Hey. Yeah. You know, normal is not going to happen, but how would you look at that? How can we help people play that they’re seeing they’re in today, but also let’s face it. We also have to become better humans. We have to, we have to be very self aware and we have to, you know, with a, with a new world and new access. Um, I think this is exciting, right? Like I, I’ve always said like social media gave me access to the world. You know, my, my growing up in Pittsburgh, I only knew the, the, you know, the beach that we went to vacation and Pittsburgh, a lot of my family that lived in Pittsburgh, some of them might be watching, um, have very rarely ever traveled outside of the state if ever, um, you know, my daughters can Skype with friends in Australia.
Speaker 1: (31:08)
Um, they have access to people and community around the world. So when you look at where we’re at now, what is, what is your feeling? What’s your like current emotion. And, and it’s also one of those interesting balances because you also have exciting news. You’re reworking wellbeing, a new addition to that family, which I am so excited to welcome you into the, uh, the, the awesome exclusive dads club. But, you know, like, Hey, we’re, we’re re we will be, you know, raising children in this new world. But I actually think it’s even more important to raise ourselves into this new world and play this new scene. How are you looking at this whole, this, you know, what kind of where we’re at?
Speaker 3: (31:46)
I, I did like a story the other day. And several people reached out and said Instagram and said, save this as a highlight. Cause this is so good. Uh, people reached out and said, Oh my gosh, I didn’t think of it this way. And one of the things that I always looked at when I back when I was in HR, I was in HR for a long time as well. One of the things I always thought about was when, when things happen, there are really like three buckets where we get to put our efforts. The bucket number one is the heroic, visible efforts. So this is the black squares. Although is that heroic? I don’t know. That’s the black squares on Instagram. That’s the show of solidarity. That’s the hosting, this hosting that it’s the donations, it’s all of those things that are like visible support that’s bucket one and bucket two is all the social cultural thing.
Speaker 3: (32:27)
So everyone’s reading the books, the books that have been out by the way, for a long time, the movies that people are saying, have you ever seen this movie? And it’s like, yeah, I saw it four years ago when it was nominated for an Academy award. And so all of those things are, are, so there’s the social cultural or reading books together. We’re doing book clubs in our organizations, we’re reading books to our kids. And those two things, you know, a lot of times right now, people are saying, do the work. And whether that’s due to work around, uh, how you’re rethinking your business because of, of, uh COVID or whether it’s do the work in being in anti-racism in the work there. And I think what we think the work is sometimes as bucket one and bucket two, that’s just catching up. Frankly, the real work is bucket three and bucket three is looking at all of the systems that led us to a place that bucket one and two were needed.
Speaker 3: (33:19)
So we’ve got to look in our organizations and say, do we little simple things that we’ve seen through research that taking names off of resumes? Yes. Make sure that that groups of people get interviews and it’s shown all over. There’s a, there’s a great book called what works that talks about this. Exactly. At work, they did a study and I’m gonna, I might mess it up a little bit. So don’t ask me everybody. But that study was that, uh, in, in orchestras, there was a, they were male dominant orchestras, like the music they’re male dominant. So they said, okay, what can we do? How can we study this? How can we look at it? And so what they did is they, um, they put up screen. So they did a set of interview of auditions where you could see the people. Then they said, well, let’s put up screens and you can’t tell if it’s male or female.
Speaker 3: (34:06)
I wonder if it’ll mean that we hire more women and it was only marginal. And they were like, I don’t get it. But the thing that they forgot is that the stage that they were walking on was hardwood and people could tell the difference in the footsteps between men and women. And even that small amount, that small amount of unconscious bias to a huge difference. So they had them take their shoes off and it, it leveled the playing field. And so what about in our organization? So many organizations, so many people are saying, Oh, I’ve got to, um, I got to work on my unconscious bias. And it’s, it’s really about, to me, that feels like a really longterm, like great movement. But what we have to do today is to look at, so we’re talking about defunding the police or something like that. We also have to look at why have I not paid attention to where the money is going into schools in my neighborhood?
Speaker 3: (34:58)
Why do I have no clue? Who’s on the city council in my town, because we look at big federal elections, we look at LGBT rights. We look at, um, pro-life pro choice. We look at those big things, and those are really used in a lot of ways to keep us from paying attention to the small things like campaign finance. That really matters because at the end of the day, regardless of what Paula, what side you’re on, if organizations are giving a lot of money to the candidates, who do you think those candidates owe their efforts to me, they owe it to the organizations and we don’t even understand how elections work. And so that is where the work is. We have to go in and we have to do the work to change our school policies, to change the way that we hire. That’s the real work, the first two buckets. Those are great, and those are catching up. But the third one, and that’s the hard one, Brian, you hit it. Exactly. It’s the hard one that most people I fear I fear are not going to do well.
Speaker 1: (35:56)
And I, you know, and I think this is where, you know, um, you know, and I, you know, it is not even really how we can walk into like white privilege conversations, but there’s an element where you, we, we oftentimes feel comfortable doing just enough, but we also feel comfortable showing that we’re doing something, but also like, you know, like figuring that out. And I, you know, for me, one of the big glaring, um, you know, errors of my ways was, you know, being an advocate and make, and being proud that I, in certain such situations, I was silent in certain situations. I wasn’t. Um, and I wasn’t being strategic with those, which I am in many other areas. But also to your point, you know, like if you watch, I mean, I recommend just go into Netflix, hit the black life matters, uh, documentary subcategory.
Speaker 1: (36:43)
You will, all of a sudden realize really quickly that like the district attorney in your area is going to impact your life 10 X, what the president is going to be. And I live in Northern Virginia, right? Like I was blue, like the corruption at that level, turning, putting people that have one drug charge away for life versus like, there’s a lot of those, those things as well. But I also, you know, like, like you said, with the unconscious bias piece, right. And I think this also comes into, um, LGBTQ pride and a lot of the ally. Right. And I think for a lot of people, especially in this current environment, the question becomes, where do we start? How do we start making action? And I think, I think a lot of us, we want to, it’s kind of like, we want to change the world.
Speaker 1: (37:26)
And the reason we like that statement is because it’s so grand and it’s so big. And we make it feel like if not everyone is with us, we didn’t fail. We tried. Right. And I think that is no longer acceptable. It is no longer, Hey, let me change the world. It’s not going to be like, how do I change my actions today? How do I change? Even the words that I use, even the, you know, the ability, one of the things that I went and looked at was, you know, I was moving this past weekend and I was unloading the books onto my daughter’s bookcase. And I started to organize them on the diversity of the characters on the front of the, of the book. And then how many are white versus black? How many are, you know, boys versus girls? How even just looking at those things, being like, Hey, I know we have these conversations, but when we’re facilitating this in many different ways, it is something that you will continue to get that right way.
Speaker 1: (38:16)
Right. And if we look at, and I do think this is something that I would love to hear your thoughts on. And I saw this yesterday and I immediately was like, I want to hear what Mike thought is that in this COVID world, everything is political, right? I mean, it’s a shame. Even wearing a mask right now is politicized. And my soapbox on that is if are not wearing a mask into someone that says it’s mandated to wear a mask, whatever statement you think you’re making, you’re not, you’re just, you’re just a jerk. Like you’re just a flat out jerk. And I will, I will take that statement. And you’re like that I am all for being bold and standing up for what you believe in, but that is not one that goes there, but the statement that was there yesterday, because COVID some of the news channels have all of the total numbers of people that have been diagnosed.
Speaker 1: (38:59)
And then there’s total number of deaths and then total number of tests. And there’s, that’s not a data. Right. And then there’s lots of data around black lives matter and lots of data when it comes to police brutality. And even, you know, although the branding around defunding police, um, probably needs some work on just that, but the naming there, you know, if we look at it and all of the things that we’ve put onto police to do in our classrooms, writing tickets, protecting us, you know, being the traffic cop, being the person that checks our, our license plate sticker on the back of our like, Oh my God, like just stand back a second and be like, no wonder things have got so out of control. And so, and like, how do we, you’ll reign that back in and you understand where these roles go.
Speaker 1: (39:39)
But the thing, the statement yesterday that I, that jumped out at me that I wanted to ask you about was data, the state, and I’ll probably botch it. It was, it was data draws, awareness, emotion, draws, action. And part of me was a little worried about that statement because a lot of the emotion that a lot of us are currently, um, allowing into our lives is very filtered. One sided. Um, I’ve made this statement for a while that I really weirdly, and I do this like methodically. If I watch 30 minutes of CNN, I watch 30 minutes of Fox news. I make it like my, like I will. And I like, I refuse. And like, I don’t care. And part of it was because of, like, I grew up on one side and kind of branch my own side. And people were like, man, Brent, I can’t believe how well rounded you are.
Speaker 1: (40:30)
And you know, and I, and all of a sudden I stopped having that. Right. I stopped being able to not, it doesn’t mean I have to agree with one side, but it’s understanding where that one side is coming from. And so when I hear like data being a data guy, I like data. And I’m all for stories. But like, where does this, where we look at these movements and these things that we’re, we’re, we’re trying to change and not trying to change. We are freaking going to change the world is we’re making noise. It’s no longer, you know, it’s ridiculous has taken us this long, but we are going to change. How do you look at that data emotion? Because I mean, storytelling, we have, we have the, my Angela quote, um, that I think we all love, but in this current times, what role does emotion play?
Speaker 3: (41:11)
I think that it’s, that it plays a huge role. And, you know, in all of my training and all of the, the, the keynotes, the workshops, everything I do the spit because I realized that there’s this idea that knowledge equals power. You’ve heard this before, right. Knowledge equals power. Uh, I D and that knowledge will then equal change. That’s the that’s thing, knowledge equals power. And if I have knowledge, I can change things, but that’s not true because like, I know, I know generally what I should be eating to be healthy, whether I’m peaking or peaking, by the way, as a new thing, where you’re paleo and vegan at the same time, I’m not sure what, that, it’s very difficult, but whether you do that, it all works because it’s calorie restriction. At the end of the day, it really all works. I’ve met people who are paleo vegan, Piegan WeightWatchers, and they all work in, some of them don’t work, right.
Speaker 3: (42:03)
Uh, so we all know what we should be eating, roughly. We all know that we should be moving more, to be healthy and to, to, to feel good. And to all those things. And we all know in 2020, that meditation is not Wu, that it actually scientifically changes your brain chemistry. And yet we have all that knowledge, but am I healthy AAF? No, honey, I got some handles you can love on. Okay. Lots of love on my handles. Um, I wake up most days with spots that hurt as a 40 year old dude, I am stressed out and anxious because I don’t meditate enough. And we know all of that and it doesn’t lead to change. What leads to change if you, if you think about like the standard movie trope, right? Of like when does a middle aged man make a huge, drastic change in his life after a heart attack, he knew before better.
Speaker 1: (42:52)
He didn’t even know that it’s in, it’s in his genes and they round the time it’s going to happen.
Speaker 3: (42:57)
So we need stories to me, truthiness to me is what leads us to change, not facts and not data because we live in a post-fact world. We live in a post-fact world. We live where two things can be true and be opposing. So what do you do in a world where facts don’t matter in true is not always true. You have to find the truth. The truth is what’s more important than the truth is about what those things end up meaning, and you can’t do that without emotion.
Speaker 1: (43:28)
And I love that. And I don’t know if anybody saw the NASCAR, uh, yesterday, which the fact that NASCAR is leading the way and really in my opinion, doing massive change and owning the massive mistakes and, um, you know, uh, Bubba Watson, you know, one of their drivers, you know, he, um, there was a news found in his stall and the entire NASCAR community prior to the race in unison. Non-planned like just the driver saying, Hey, when he, when his car pulls out, no one get in their car, walk out with him to show unity. I mean, I was bawling, bawling my eyes out, watching this on Instagram and just I, and, you know, and part of it was, you know, I’ve been to many, many NASCAR races, um, at, you know, I grew up, uh, went to school in Southwestern, Virginia. Um, and you know, there was also this like, idea of using like the word redneck or using the word, you know, the Southwest, the North, and like, you know, a lot of those interesting things I live in Virginia right now where, you know, enrichment, you know, monument Avenue of course has got a lot of, um, you know, a lot of attention, uh, recently.
Speaker 1: (44:28)
And, and I think that your brother really good point too, in that emotional connection, but also, you know, I look at your, you know, working with what you have now, right. I think for so many people, we first have to own the fact that we’ve been doing things wrong and things that weren’t okay. And I don’t care if it was misinformation being naive, sticking our head in the sand. You’re like, I, I went back and watched a Baltimore rising for the second time, right after this most recent up on, you know, uh, riots and things that were, you know, the protests were really exciting to see. And, and I went back and watched Baltimore rising for a second time with a new lens. Right. Because I felt as though the first time I looked at it and was like, that is wrong. I can’t believe it’s happening.
Speaker 1: (45:08)
And nothing in my life change. Right. I was, I was a hundred percent on, okay. You’re like, Hey. And so when I was watching it this time you’re living in that area, one of the things that jumped out at me from like awareness, or like, you know, just not really understanding was that like all of the dominoes that are in play in everything from afterschool programs to the things that are on our TV to, like you said, the names, having the names on the resume, and it’s less about, you know, prevent teaching ourselves. I think a lot more of it about is about being so aware of everything that is in our life, that shapes how we’re doing. And I think that’s exciting yet. Scary. Right?
Speaker 3: (45:48)
Yeah. It’s the, it’s, it’s the idea that, like, it goes back to this, to this very simple thing of like, the reason that I, and I I’ve seen this a lot, you’ve probably seen it too. The reason that I have, what I have is because I worked really hard. The reason that you have what you have is because you were lucky. Yeah.
Speaker 1: (46:03)
And you said you were a 10% work. Right. I saw your post on Facebook a while ago.
Speaker 3: (46:07)
Yeah. Somebody asked crystal Washington asked the question,
Speaker 1: (46:11)
Upcoming guests to the show too.
Speaker 3: (46:14)
She said, what percentage of your success? Something like this is attributed to your own hard work versus luck. And I still like, even me who I was born to a 15 year old mom, I grew up poor. I dropped out of college. I’m gay, I’m type one diabetic since I was nine years old. Um, even me, I think I probably could attribute a 10% because I’m still a white guy born in the United States, States born towards the end of the 20th century. And in a lot of ways, even with the things stacked against me, the world in general is still pretty on my side. Right. And so I think I probably 10 or 15% responsible for what I’ve been able to create. And the rest of it was the world. I don’t live in a world where you walk down the street and people are throwing a bucket of like urine and feces out the window like they did in medieval times.
Speaker 3: (47:08)
I don’t live in a world where, where my gender makes people question, whether I should be allowed to have an opinion in a meeting. I don’t live in that world. And so even if it’s been tough being gay, even if it’s been tough being type one diabetic, you asked about acting earlier. Why didn’t I go further into acting when I was 21? It’s because I didn’t have health insurance that I had to have a job because would have died without health insurance, as a type one diabetic in 2001. If I’d had to pay for insurance on my own one, they wouldn’t have given it to me. Cause preexist wouldn’t have given it to me. And two, it would have been $1,500 a month. So why did I not go further in acting it’s because I needed health insurance. So all of those things were stacked against me.
Speaker 3: (47:47)
And yet still nobody second guesses. My experience like they do to my female friends, nobody questions, whether the things I get in my life or because I did them or because I’m lucky, like they do to so many of my black friends. And so at the end of the day, even with all the shit stuff, whatever I’ve been through, I still got it a lot better than a lot of the other people out there. And I think going back to all the things that we’re talking about, the, the, the work that we have to do is to, to hopefully as, as tough time and latency makes the emotions of the last couple of months, the last two months, specifically around, around racial justice in this country, as the emotions of that go away and the protests aren’t on the news. We have to look at the laws.
Speaker 3: (48:44)
Do you know, in the state of Cal, I feel like an activist now, uh, we’re all activists now in the state of California, there are still, there are illegal by the state Supreme court. So they can’t do so. They don’t enforce them cause they can’t, but it’s still written. It’s still written into real estate contracts, racial covenants of what areas black people are allowed to live, where, uh, Mexicans can not buy a home. It’s still written in the contract so that the contract that people are signing still remind them that at some point you are a second class citizen in this country. Yes, isn’t it. And we have to look at that stuff and say, wait a second, we’ve been talking about defunding schools forever and nobody thought about it. So I really hope that the emotions of this remind us to do the real work. That’s, that’s what I hope.
Speaker 1: (49:32)
And I, and I think, you know, even with, you know, press the down button, right? Like for me, this whole Mo you know, there was some video piece of this, but like, for me, it’s the idea that like, we can’t, we can’t allow the past to prevent us from making leaps in the future. Like we have to own that we’ve done there. There was things that were so wrong and so bad that there were so exposed. Right. And then there’s also like this idea of, we also have to continue to have the tough conversations and they are tough and they are awkward. And there’s some times, you know, I told you a story offline, you know, uh, with the movers, I just had this past weekend where, you know, the conversation led to me doing four hours of moving by myself after I paid someone to do six hours of the work.
Speaker 1: (50:13)
Right. And there, but there’s also this, this to your point, like this idea of like, Hey, as some of these things, aren’t the front page news or whatever it may be, what is our role? And I, and I would love for you to kind of, as we’re moving towards this segment where I want to press some buttons on the other side of the fence here. But like one of the things that I’ve always said on social media and I’m reexamining, this is that I’m going to be myself from, I tell my stories my way. And if people unfollow me, it’s their loss, not mine. And I’ve always kind of like lived that, cause it’s kind of like bled in during the, the, when we had to deal with this kind of recent, when I came to the realization that my silence was no longer acceptable and my silence was actually compliance.
Speaker 1: (50:55)
And I was extremely silent in many different areas. I actually, because I’m kind of a geek like that. I wrote down like 15 different scenarios in the last 12 months that I was positioned in that I took the path of silence feel and making myself feel good about it feeling as though I was on team for a better world, when I now realized that was wrong. And, and I had, you know, in the one, the first day as I was making the stance, 46 people in follow me on Instagram, the next day, 81, and the next day, like 105, right? So like, let’s just say 200 or so people. And the, the, the old me was always like, you know what, it’s their loss. But I sat back and said, Holy cow, like those 200 people, the people that I want to reach, not because I want them to know my way, but I believe if we’re not telling the stories, we’re not getting the emotion because I had someone, I was watching tech talk the other day and this person has millions of followers.
Speaker 1: (51:45)
And they got, I mean, they got shamed in their TechTalk feed. And the reply back was like, I don’t watch the news. Like I don’t watch TV. And like, so like by bias, doesn’t come from there. And like my first thought was like, if we even think about it from that way, like how do we reach those, that quote unquote are unreachable or those that are only connected via different messages or methodologies. And I do think it is it’s all of us having the conversations. Right. And I would even argue that, you know, someone had mentioned to me when launching of this show, I wanted to launch the show in February. I paused my other podcast in March. Cause I thought the world has enough fear at the moment. Let’s leave Somo in the background for the near future. Um, but you know, I was really reluctant on launching this show, but then you’re part of it came down to this idea of like, no, and I’m not going to avoid topics.
Speaker 1: (52:35)
I, and even if we look at it, if I look at it from this part is like, I want to keep conversations going, moving forward. As we move in with things that are going on, I have a good friend of mine. Uh, Jared is coming on, on, on this week on Friday, uh, one of my favorite activists in the world. Um, and he’s gonna talk a lot about, you know, even things that he’s done in the NASA arena, helping NASA kind of, uh, understand some things, but I guess the piece that you have a podcast, uh, you know, mic drop moment. And I thought one of the things that’s interesting is that, you know, it’s our ability to be memorable. It’s our ability to perform. It’s our ability to be relatable. How, how, how, before we get into the last segment, how do you look at the, the world that you’re, that you and Phil are raising the new one as a, as a new one, enters the world before the end of the year, as you start looking at that emotion, it’s not. And I, and it’s not like, Hey, how do we make the world a better place for our kids, but really how do you look at being open to new conversations and new experiences and new worlds in this new normal?
Speaker 3: (53:42)
I think it’s, it’s twofold for me. One is that, that, you know, we tend to say, and this is where I think there’s actually this really great. Um, the, in the idea behind press the damn button, I think there’s something about, you know, we, we think of confidence, the confidence to push the button, the confidence to have a mic drop moment, because for me, the mic drop moment is when you say the truth and it resonates with other people, that’s when it’s a mic drop moment, you need to feel it. And so do they. And so for me, pressing the damn button and the mic drop moment, the merit, the link between these two ideas is one that I don’t think confidence is, is born. Confidence is, is crafted. I also think that like, you don’t need to find your voice, you need to do is to allow your voice to come up to, to trust it. And so,
Speaker 1: (54:33)
Yes, it’s not introvert extrovert, right? I get it. We have to throw those things out of it. Right. I love that.
Speaker 3: (54:38)
And the thing about it is, is that it also has to happen in community that we have to press the damn button. And there has to be a response that we have to have a mic drop moment. Not because we stood in a room and screened our message and gave zingers to people. But because we said truthiness, that resonated. And so there’s something really interesting here to say, that’s the world I want to live in is one that, that has permission for people to confidently say what they need to say and then provides community for that to resonate. And so when I think about the world that my child is going to grow up in, um, it’s going to be hopefully a world with more of that. It’s going to be a world with a whole bunch of stuff still, because again, the work is not bucket one posters and money donations though.
Speaker 3: (55:27)
The work is not bucket to read the books and do the movies that’s catching up. The work is change the systems to read. I read a great book called, um, I think everyone should read this book, what you should know about politics, but don’t a nonpartisan guide to the issues that matter by Jessamyn Conrad. I would say if we pulled people right now who are watching this or listening to this, most people don’t actually know how the election process works in this country. Most people do not know how the Supreme court decisions actually what they actually mean and what they are. And I think that that is really a crime in our country where we have so many freedoms that, that we don’t understand those things, because those things, yes, the posters and the donations and the books and the movies matter, and you should watch them to catch up, but it’s that third one that matters. And so what I hope we live in is a world where pressing the damn button and finding your mic drop moment is inspiring people to break down all of the things that have stopped them from going where they want to go, so they can create a new story together. Yes.
Speaker 1: (56:34)
Amen. I love that. And I think this is where that might drop moment is, right. It’s the idea that there are going to be bad people doing bad stuff, and there is going to be hate and shame in the world, but there is this element of, you know, as you discover what aspects of who you are connect and leaning into that and exploring where that, that takes you. And I think it even goes back into your original point on like living in the senior end. Right. And being, being able to take that on and embrace that. And there’s a lot of, you know, old school advice of, you know, like not, you know, not conforming and not leaning into that. And there’s also these assumptions and, you know, and I think one of the other things that we can do, and, and this is where I’m kinda like, uh, you know, push, push your buttons a little bit.
Speaker 1: (57:17)
And I’m curious just how you take, um, this, you know, like one of the things that I’ve always looked at was that we’ve heard about failures and people’s, uh, you know, like Michael Jordan and Oprah, but it’s always after they’re successful. And I’m a big believer in like giving people access to how a sausage is made. I mean, we had three attempts to go live on this and, uh, you know, and I like to think, I kind of know what I’m doing in this space and kind of just owning that, right. Because we are all human at the end of the day, but there are also aspects of our lives that we keep private, your, your, um, you know, even your husband, which is funny, cause Aaron was on here as well. And, uh, her husband’s the same way and the kind of the sense of, Hey, I’m living in my world doing amazing things and I don’t have to be out there on the microphone or on social media.
Speaker 1: (57:58)
And so I’m curious when you look at this and in yours fear or where you’re looking, like, how do you look at prioritizing what you talk about, what you don’t talk about, how do you look and kind of approach transparency in your life, especially so many aspects of your life are either going to, it’s going to take a polarizing decision or, you know, a reaction from so on and you know, even your hair, right. Your hair was the first 10 comments of the show. Right. Which I freaking love. Right. Because I think that there is also a beauty in people connecting with people that, Hey, this is who I am and, you know, take it or leave it. So how do you look at that? How do you approach that transparency and that kind of prioritization in your life?
Speaker 3: (58:36)
I think for me, it’s always been the cause the decision even to, to, you know, cause one of the things about like, so being gay, right? You have to come out all the time. People think it’s coming out as an event. No, it’s all the time. The amount of times that even like the last couple of years of my life, I’ve been at an event and they said, Oh, did your wife travel with you? I’d have to decide to come out. Oh then on stage where, where someone else doesn’t have to think about saying my wife and my kids, that’s a decision I have to make my identity in that way is revolutionary and rebellious in some rooms. And so for me, I made this decision very early on, even as a leader back in the restaurant world when I was 22 of realizing that it was a reason that people could hold me back.
Speaker 3: (59:21)
And in fact, until last week it was a legal reason. People could fire me being gay. And so one of the things that I made the decision of was that visibility matters so much that seeing other people like you doing things matters so much. I think that’s, you know, you, you talked about, um, about Oprah Winfrey or Michael Jordan. I think president Obama there’s power and visibility at saying now I know that that’s possible for me. And so what I wanted to do really clearly always was to say, you know what? I wish that I had had somebody not a role model necessarily, but someone to at least show me that like the things I want were possible for people like me. Right? And so I made that decision that what would I share would always be anything that I thought was helpful. And if me sharing it could be helpful, then, then I will share it because, uh, I feel like I’ve been given a gift.
Speaker 3: (01:00:13)
I I’m pretty good with words. I’m pretty good at connecting with people. So maybe that’s my gift to be able to share. And so even down to with, with the baby, with our baby, I realize that as a somewhat public person, that my job is my name, my website is my name. My personality is my product. In a lot of ways, I realized that I am going to have a lifetime of where is the mom? Is it mommy’s day off? I realized, I said this to Phil, we were walking around our town. We were going to dinner. And I said, you know, what’s interesting is you and me going to dinner right now is just two guys having dinner, even two gay guys, having dinner. We become a spectacle when it’s two guys in a baby and that to me, and so what do I do?
Speaker 3: (01:01:07)
Do I hide from it? Or do I show it in for me, if it is helpful to anyone, one to maybe change the way that someone votes, because they say, look at them. I didn’t realize that. And now I know I’ll vote differently. Maybe it’s a little kid who’s looking and saying, I don’t think I can ever be happy and have a relationship and be in love and be okay. And so if there’s someone out there who can see me, who relatively confident and comfortable to be able to share some of those truths, then I’m all for it. And that’s how I made that decision.
Speaker 1: (01:01:31)
I had a feeling you were going to say that that’s, I know this is where I’m at, press the button a little bit back. So there’s a lot of people that are cancer survivors that very proud and very public about it. But then they start to either feel shame or feel as though what they are really good at is overshadowed by the cancer. And they say, I don’t want to be known as the cancer football player. I think of, uh, you know, James Conner, who’s a Steelers running back, um, who was literally given a 5% chance. And, and he is the advocate and there are people that he’s changed their lives. And for the longest time up until just recently, he made it a point every time, like, please do not introduce me with cancer in my bio. I am not. That is not who I am.
Speaker 1: (01:02:08)
And he recently just kind of shifted. And I was, um, it was a refreshing piece for me, but I also can relate to that. Right. Because, and as you were saying that, like my heart broke a little bit in the sense that you look at that as being like the future for forever for you and Phil raising a child. Right. And I will tell you, I didn’t plan on sharing this, but my, my oldest daughter, who’s 10. Um, just this past weekend we were talking about, um, I have a big backyard and we’re like, Hey, I’m gonna have all the families over and we can do a camp out of back there or something. And she, without missing a beat said, well, you know, uh, I can’t remember the kid’s name, but, um, both of her dads are we’d love to come cause they can help out.
Speaker 1: (01:02:46)
And there was not a skip in there. There was not a conversation. And my middle daughter and me, I was like, yeah, I know. And both dads can help out. We can have them both in the backyard. And it was a, it was so refreshing, like normal. And I hate the word normal, but there was a part of me that was in that moment was, do I highlight this as really inspiring to my daughters and lift them up or do I allow them to own it because they’re doing it in, in a way that there is no difference. And I’m, so I’m curious in that piece of it where yes, this, this is going to be something that people are going to talk about, but I also do believe it’s going to force conversations. And I do believe we are, we are working towards some shape of, you know, shifting a lot of these common assumptions, even, you know, one of the things that I started to do, and I asked the question before, it was like, I always referred to it as my partner, therefore not ever having the, um, piece of it.
Speaker 1: (01:03:39)
And someone was like, well, Brian, now it gives you the opt out of saying Mike and his husband. Cause you can say Mike and your partner. And I was like, well, crap, I was doing it because I didn’t want to be the one it’s like, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a wife or a husband. And so like, that’s we? And so how do you look at that? How do you, and I’m not saying you have to have an answer I’m I guess I’m saying more that as you, as your brand, there’s an element of, Hey, this is what I’m known for and this is the cause I’m I am. But then there’s also like what, what role does that play in your everyday life and impact, you know, everything that you’re doing?
Speaker 3: (01:04:12)
Well, I think, I think two things, one what you said about your daughters recognizing that I think is, is great. And I think it says a lot about how they’re being raised and what they’re seeing. And I think it’s unique. I don’t think it’s that common. Right? I agree. I think it’s far more common than for kids to be made fun of. Uh, I think it’s far. And the other thing we to think about, I was, I was, um, I posted last year, something around coming out story and mine was mostly positive, but it’s never, always positive because you have this doubt of like, is, am I going to be ostracized? And so I wrote about that and, and telling my mom for the first time and somebody wrote thinking she was being helpful. She wrote and said, Oh, I, um, I, if my son ever does that, he’ll know, he could just walk in the house with his boyfriend and I won’t care about anything except for what kind of sandwich would you both like?
Speaker 3: (01:04:57)
And what I had to remind this person of is it isn’t just your household because every single show we watch makes it normal for mommy and daddy, every single doll in the store, 99% of dolls in the store are in the girls’ aisle. 99% of dolls wear certain clothes. The things that we make are so different, even down to where I was with with a gay couple who have twins and somebody said, Oh, like, what do you, you know, when you grow up, what do you want to be at their birthday party? And it was like, do you want to be a fireman? Do you want to be this? And I was like, do you want to be the creative director of a Broadway show? Like we limit it. And it was different options that they would have said to a girl. So even if the parents are so understanding, they’re still steeped in a world of that.
Speaker 3: (01:05:42)
It’s the same reason why it’s the same reason why talking to kids about race is so important because even if you’re an, I, I challenged so many of my parent friends with this in the last few weeks, even if you’re a little kid is a little cherub who says, I don’t even understand why this is going on. I love my black friends. They have to understand what is actually going on in the world, around them as well. And so, so I think it’s great. And I think it’s unique, the experience your daughter’s had with you. And I think that that because of people like that and because of people like my child bonding and growing up together, they will change the world, but it’s not just going to be because they hold hands and love each other. It’s because they break down the systems legally separated.
Speaker 3: (01:06:22)
And so that’s inspiring, of course, for sure. And I think on the second part of it, I think that the, the challenge of what is our job to educate people, right? Like what is our job to do that? It isn’t. And, and so here’s the thing. If you, if you are a cancer survivor and you say, that’s not what I want to lead with that’s okay. Right. And if an event says, we want you here to talk about cancer, you can say no to it. Right. The same way that I think right now, I’ve seen this a lot where people are reaching out to black creators saying, Hey, will you come on and talk about being black? And it’s like, no, I’m a website designer. Right. I’ll come on and talk about website design, but I don’t want to come on and talk about being a black website designer.
Speaker 3: (01:07:09)
Right. Um, that’s a choice we each get to make for me, I’m, I’m very comfortable, not even comfortable. It’s not about being comfortable or not. I’m very, um, I’ve made a decision that I’m okay. Coming and talking about what my experience is like, but Phil, wouldn’t be interested in that if they said, come on and talk about being a gay chef, he would probably be like, ah, I don’t really know if I want to do that for me. I’m okay doing that. That’s a choice I’ve made and we all don’t have to make the choice to be activists. And we certainly don’t have to make the choice to be activists, to think about the things that we do and how they impact the world. And I think that’s really reassuring that we all don’t have to lead with our activism. We can actually go vote differently, think differently, pay attention to our schools, pay attention to our local things. And I think that’s, for me, that’s really empowering. And we live in a place where we can do that.
Speaker 1: (01:07:59)
Yeah. I think that, and I love where you kind of took that because I think there’s also this beauty in finding the impact that you’re going to make, but not being okay with sitting back and complaining about what’s not happening and not doing anything. Right. And I think there is that, that tendency and I’ve, I found myself being very enabling to help people tell stories and be there, the advocate and the activist. And when I would get pushed back on that, and they would say, that’s not my, not my job, not my norm. I would kind of take that to the point where it’s like, okay, then you don’t get a chance to complain about these things. And I think it’s also, it’s important step back and say, wait a second, there are other ways that you can make an impact of the ways that you can do certain things.
Speaker 1: (01:08:38)
And so I love where you, you know, you took that as well in the sense of, you know, figuring out the right things. I, as I was reaching out to people for this show, even reaching out to you, like for me, it was like, Hey, we’re not gonna, I wasn’t reaching out to you to talk about certain topics. It was like, Hey, this is the style of my show. You’re someone I want to tell their story. Right. And I think this is also that, that interesting world where we have to forgive people for not knowing or doing it the right way. But we also have to also forgive people, forgive ourselves and realize like you, it’s better to ask the wrong way and learn from it then to not ask it all right. To not make the, the, and I think that’s this, this tendency because a lot of people, and I say a lot of people, and for me, we’re like Brian, we see it.
Speaker 1: (01:09:19)
We like you’re, you’re not afraid of putting it out there. Um, I’m listening and I’m learning and I’m scared as hell to do it wrong and scared to hell to do it wrong is what I believe. We tell ourselves so that we don’t have to say anything that we continue to get silent until it disappears from the mainstream. And then we can kind of do things. So maybe it’s scared of doing it a certain way, but maybe it’s finding a different way or a different button to press or your certain path. And so, you know, I would love to kind of leave you at the end here on, you know, you have your podcast, mic drop moment. I know you have, um, story craft where you’re helping people leverage their influence, uh, their impact and, and really ignite their audience. I can tell you, I’ve been in the audience for you on stage multiple times.
Speaker 1: (01:10:03)
Uh, I’ve had multiple aha. Mike, Mike, John moments of like, Oh, I need to do that. I, you know, I can tell you I’ve I remember I pulled open, uh, notes from one of your sessions, uh, about probably six weeks ago. Cause I did four hours of rehearsal for a virtual presentation and I hadn’t done four hours of rehearsal in a year for anything I’d done on stage. Right? Like it was like, it was like all of a sudden I appreciate it. And now I even look like I’m going to rehearse a different way. I’m going to do things differently as I move forward. And so as we let people and I’ll put in the show notes, the story craft piece, but you know, stories that matter standing up for your voice, discovering what works, what doesn’t work, leaning in and living in the story that you’re at, where, where, where do you want people to think? Where’s the call to action here at the end for the audience. That’s like, Hey, you know what, I I’m now I now see the lighter and I’m now ready to embrace my imperfections. Right? Or, I mean, the show is proof perfections of fairytale controls and illusion. I mean, this was take three. Um, how does, how does Mike Menino leave people moving forward to press the damn button and really embrace their mic drop moment?
Speaker 3: (01:11:14)
I think it’s about two things. One is that, that the answer to, to, to growing the answer, to finding the ability to, to stand up and say something is about curiosity. So really getting clear on your intentions. What are my intentions here? What do I want to learn about, what do I want to share? What do I want to explore? That’s number one. And the second thing, the more powerful thing is I think if you’re in doubt, if your message, if you’re in doubt, if your ideas, if you’re in doubt that that what you say matters and can make a difference, that the only way to know the only way to get out of doubt is to be there. The only way to explore that and to validate it is to be here. And so in order to like build that certainty, if you’re looking for certainty in whether your story, your message, your ideas, I mean, just even a pitch, you’re selling something to hear if your ideas and your story matters, the only way to do it is to show up. And, and I think that’s really the big call to action for so many of us, whether you want to have a podcast, you want to go on Facebook live, you want to do any of those things is one get really clear on your intentions and what you’re hoping to do, and then to relieve any of the doubts about pushing the damn button and whether what you have to say is worthy of a mic drop moment. The only way you’ll ever answer that is by pushing the button and going forward.
Speaker 1: (01:12:36)
Thank you, Mike, you are a great friend, a great leader, super excited for you. You’re a great dad moments that you have coming up and for, for living that with you alongside of you and, you know, moving forward, guys, check them out over at Mike [inaudible] dot com. You can also Mike denino.com/story craft. He has a massive download for you guys to really understand, you know, the five stories you must master the frameworks, some expert advice on, uh, storytelling. I’ve always said, storytelling is my favorite thing to study. I have a notebook on my coffee table for every documentary that I ever watched. I take notes, pages of notes, um, I, everything from the camera angles. Um, one of my favorite things to do is to look at the thumbnail, look at the description and guess what the story is. And the plot is. And at the end, see if I was right or wrong.
Speaker 1: (01:13:23)
If I was wrong, try to figure out why they built that into it, to tell that story, to get me, to watch it or consume it. Um, and it’s, to me, those are all different aspects. I think the other beauty of storytelling is that the audience always changes. Therefore storytelling is never one size fits all. And even with this podcast, to me, part of this was, you know, the idea of, wow, I just, I love the people around me. I love that we can, you know, we can make a difference in the world. And, and so, you know, thank you for spending the time on, you know, giving me a little bit extra time as well, or a lot of extra time as we dealt with some, uh, technical issues. And, you know, for those that are out there listening, you know, I think it’s a lot, a lot of this comes down to, you know, finding your people, finding your tribe, experimenting, putting things out there, reach out to myself.
Speaker 1: (01:14:07)
I know, reach out to Mike as well. You know, I, I think this is, um, you know, we, recrafting a new normal and you know, I will take that same call to action. Like I said, is, you know, be curious and know your intentions. And, uh, remember that, you know, in the world we’re living in today, you know, you can go a long way by just caring, by showing up, showing, telling someone that you appreciate them, letting someone know that what they’re doing is changing your life is making an impact. And a Mike Denino, you’ve made an impact on my life. You’ve made an impact on, I know a lot of listeners today. So with that, I like to thank everybody for listening. Thanks to our sponsor restream.io. Check them out. It is the official powering the press, the damn button podcast. And until next episode, my friends make it a great day. Cheers.
About the Guest:
Author / Speaker
Mike Ganino is a storytelling + communication expert who hosts The Mike Drop Moment podcast. He is an author, the Executive Producer of TEDxCambridge and has been named a top 30 Culture Speaker by Global Guru. He teaches storytelling, presence, and public speaking to some of the biggest names and brands. He’s a trained actor and coach from the World Famous Second City, Improv Olympics, and Upright Citizen’s Brigade.
In addition to his track record as an executive in the hotel, restaurant, retail, and tech industries, Mike’s worked with organizations like the Disney, American Marketing Association, and Uber.
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