All posts by: Thane Ringler


Exciting things are coming at the Thane Marcus Academy, and who better to share what they are with us than Thane Marcus Ringler himself? First time on the show, we flip the script as Thane takes a seat on the hot seat opposite his wife, Evan Ryan Ringler. He talks about the two online courses designed to help us grow self-awareness and develop discipline. Sharing his hard-earned and proven and tested wisdom, Thane takes us into his own journey of self-awareness and cultivating discipline. He tells us how it started for him, the lessons he learned from others along the way, and how it is packed within the two courses he’s offering to help us become better leaders and entrepreneurs.


Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”169: Thane Marcus Academy: Evan Interviews Thane About His Two Online Courses For Growing Self-Awareness And Developing Discipline”]

Thane Marcus Academy: Evan Interviews Thane About His Two Online Courses For Growing Self-Awareness And Developing Discipline

Içara This is a show all about learning how to live a good life, which we believe takes living with intention in the tension. That means that infusing intentionality and reason why behind what we do into our daily lives is the best way to face the inevitable tensions that life holds. We are on that journey and in the process of becoming alongside you and every up and comer out there. Being an up and comer means you’re in that process of becoming which hopefully, we’re in our entire lives. Thanks for tuning in and being a part of this community movement and journey with us.

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For this episode, I’m excited because this is one of the unique and first time ever where the script has been flipped. My wife, Evan Ryan Ringler, is going to be interviewing yours truly on this episode. It was a fun conversation where she dives into grilling me and asking me the questions. They’re revolving around the two online courses that are coming out through Thane Marcus Academy. It is going to be offering a couple of online courses to help us take ownership and never settle.

UAC 169 | Thane Marcus Academy


This episode is all about that. It was fun to have my wife interview me. It’s a lot of fun sharing a bit more of my story with my wife as she dove in. This was not scripted. We didn’t even talk about it beforehand. I said, “I’d love for you to interview me about some of these things that are coming out.” If you are interested in these courses, we do talk about it near the end, but they are going to be available on November 15th. Right now, they are available for preorder. You will find in this episode, a discount code for that preorder that saves you $50 on each course. It’s worth looking into that and many more reasons. I’m excited to share these with you. I believe in these fully and wholly. I can’t wait to get them into your hands soon. I’m working hard to get them finished. Until then, please enjoy this short conversation and interview with my wife interviewing me on the show. Thanks so much.

Thane Marcus, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me, Evan Ringler.

We are talking about two courses that you have created. I can’t wait to share and hear more about the origin, why you’re wanting to share them with people, and what your hope is for these guys.

[bctt tweet=”The key requirement and core competency for living a life of never settling is this idea of discipline.” via=”no”]

I’ve done a few interviews on my press tour, and I can already say that you are one of the best interviewers I’ve ever heard or seen.

What are the names of them? What are they about?

I’ve got two courses that I’m excited about. The names are alongside the rally cry that I have been passionate about this several years. It’s something that I feel has solidified over the years of working on personal and professional development. It’s this idea of taking ownership and never settling. We use it a lot in our daily lives and that’s been fun, but taking ownership is all about self-awareness. That course is designed to help us grow self-awareness, grow in and grow the skill of self-awareness. The second part of never settling is the key requirement and core competency for living a life of never settling. It is this idea of discipline, which is a requirement for choosing to not settle.

I love those two concepts. I have to share that when Thane and I started dating, even on our first date, one of the things, Thane gave me his pitch. It revolves around these two concepts of taking ownership and never settling, which I’ve heard him say countless times since then when he’s sharing the work he does and what that’s about. I remember a lot of things walking away from that date. One of which was this guy is determined and clear about what he wants to do and how he wants to help people. I love that about you, Thane. I feel you try to see and understand what God has instilled in you and why God has put you in places that he has. I admire your faithfulness and taking steps towards those talents, and using your experiences to help others for good.

UAC 169 | Thane Marcus Academy


Thank you, my lovely wife, that was beautiful and encouraging.

It is who he is to his core, folks. This is not a scam. Let’s jump into the first one of taking ownership and growing self-awareness. Where did that journey of self-awareness start for you?

It started at a point of failure for me. I mean by that is I had to be slapped into awareness. We all do in the sense that for a while, I lived a hypocritical life. A life with a lack of integrity and alignment with who I said I was. For about seven years of my life, I was saying one thing and doing another thing in my younger life, in my younger years. There was a breaking point in college where we had a golf team scandal, broke some school rules, and all this stuff came out. That was when I was forced into accountable awareness of letting other people see the inside of what’s happening, and then having to reconcile with whatever you’ve said doesn’t matter anymore because the actions are way different.

Your words now have no meaning. It’s breaking trust with people and having to work on rebuilding that. That started my journey of awareness. Awareness means that I’m honest with myself about how I’m living and what I’m saying. That was the first step for me. The next deeper step of beyond just mere integrity and alignment of my character. It comes into the deep dive of knowing the reasons why behind what we do at a deeper level, the key driver for me was definitely golf. The longer I played golf, the higher I tried to reach in the pursuit of golf. The more I had to self-discover to understand and optimize myself so that I could produce my best results in the golf course.

[bctt tweet=”Fear is never a good reason for not doing something.” via=”no”]

This process of when I was competing professionally, it was 3 to 4 years of self-discovery more than anything else. It’s just trying to learn myself as best as I can so that in any environment, whatever the pressure or setting, I could perform my best and unlock my highest potential, which is a never-ending pursuit. I didn’t reach the ultimate peak of. That’s where the reps and the training got instilled. Beyond that has been post golf and how that applies in everyday life. There are many nuances, layers and arenas. With us now being married, it’s a whole another level and arena of learning myself in a deep relational level. How that interaction brings out nuances of myself that I never knew before.

Thank you for sharing that. I’ll speak for myself maybe some others can relate. Self-awareness can feel daunting. It’s something I don’t want to lean into because it’s hard. You have to uncover hard things. Sometimes it can seem that will be a rabbit hole that will lead to this and to this. For putting in the work for myself, and with your help in marriage of walking through the deepest parts of who I am, etc. Having a partner that mirrors those things back to me, it is hard and it’s also not impossible. What would your encouragement be to those of us who are like, “It sounds great but I’m scared, I’m fearful or I don’t want to put into work?” What’s the benefit?

The first thing I always try to tell myself and others is that fear is never a good reason for not doing something. I have to remind myself all the time that fear is usually not the motivation or heart we ever want to operate out of. That’s where God is love and perfect love cast out all fear. In love, fear is cast out but in fear, it’s impossible to love truly. This tension of fear versus love is a good rubric to simplistically be like, “Am I operating out of fear of love right now? Is this my driving motivation? Should it be something that’s an underlying part of that?” You’re right. It’s hard to do this work. I think it’s scary because it’s hard to be real and see who we are.

Eric Hoffer wrote the book, The True Believer. It’s all about the nature of mass movements. What he points out is that the true believer, the participants in mass movements are usually the individuals that want to be a part of a greater entity that’s bigger than themselves. They want to take ownership or responsibility for their own lives or their own actions. That’s true to all of us at our core. Until we’ve gone on this journey or have gone through this path or began this journey, we’re not ending it. We’re going to be a part of that majority because it’s hard to take responsibility for our own actions. I was forced into it, thankfully. I can’t take credit for that.

UAC 169 | Thane Marcus Academy


I was forced into it by my own failures and then by the setting of my career pursuit. It’s available for all of us. It is an important thing to point out. The fruit of it is it creates alignment with who we want to be, which is the ultimate form of health or wellness and also peace. It’s living with alignment with who God made us to be. There’s a great book that also is helpful called Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy Wilson. It’s all about understanding the adaptive unconscious. It’s a deep dive, but he spends a whole book breaking down that 95% plus of our actions are controlled by our subconscious. We don’t control our lives, which can be incredibly depressing. He ends up the book by saying, “Self-awareness and pursuit are only as helpful as it leads to you living more in alignment with who you want to be or who you say you are.” This guy is a scientist and researcher. He spent this whole book writing on self-awareness and said, “At the end of the day, it’s only as helpful as it produces alignment and integrity within your lives, ultimately.” You’ll experience peace, wholeness and clarity by the pursuit of self-awareness, and like any worthy pursuit, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to take work and it’s not going to be fun all the time.

I love that way of thinking and the way you presented that. It made me think of times in college and maybe even in high school where it feels like you’re floating along and do your part of the wave of the crowd. With that, you don’t have to take responsibility or it’s easy to pass off, “This group was doing it. I didn’t choose to,” but you did if you were part of that group. It also made me think of Anthony de Mello’s work and how he’s crying out to us asking us to wake up and not just float through life, engage and be here. That’s exciting. I can account from our marriage and our relationship that I feel I’ve become more self-aware with your help and the mirror of what marriage is. It is hard and it also is very much worth it.

Another thing that came to mind is the Chris Heuertz quote that I love using, “If you can’t self-observe, you can’t self-correct.” What that speaking to is you have to see yourself well in order to steer yourself well. What we’re all about as humans and what we should encourage each other is to become good self-leaders. Taking ownership is always all about being a good self-leader. If we can lead ourselves well, that allows us to be good leaders of others. It doesn’t ever go the other way around. It has to be in order. We all have the ability to be good self-leaders. It’s less sexy as leading a group of people or following, or having the recognition, but the best leaders are the ones that are doing it for the one, for the few, for the no applause, for the no recognition, and behind the scenes. It’s a call that we’re all worthy of taking up and that we’re all capable of taking up, and that the world needs us all to take up.

I’m sure your experience is similar in the sense that when I feel I’m leaning into self-awareness, or owning the things that I think are flaws and shortcomings of experiencing anxiety and depression a little more. Owning it and leaning into it instead of trying to suppress it or seeing it as something that’s wrong has been freeing for me. It’s a process and a continual choice. That’s one example I feel has been helpful to embrace and say, “This is a part of me sometimes when I experience it. It’s not who I am.” It’s been neat and sweet to see how others have been empowered by sharing, or not pretending I don’t experience these things.

[bctt tweet=”In love, fear is cast out, but in fear, it’s impossible to love truly.” via=”no”]

To encourage people reading, it’s something that takes work and it’s hard for all of us, regardless of where you are. Because I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and have created courses, and spend out time in this idea or vein of thinking, doesn’t mean it’s not work. I have a hard time getting myself to put in the work. That’s true always. For example, one of the things that’s a great practice for me is the idea of journaling every day. It is such a great and easy tool that is accessible for everyone. I benefit from it, especially in the morning time after my reading time.

I get to sit and journal for a bit, and write down some things. It can’t be that very long, but there are a lot of mornings where I don’t get myself to do that because I don’t believe in the value of that time spent on that endeavor, even though I know. I say that to say that it’s always going to take belief in convincing yourself that it’s worth it, especially in our achievement-based culture of the Western world. It’s flipping it on its head the reversal of what is commonly prescribed as success, but it’s a key component of it. It’s always going to take work. It’s always going to be challenging.

It’s worth it always, just how I liked your word about any worthy endeavor. Transitioning a little bit to the next course of never settle developing discipline. You are one of the most disciplined people I know, and that is not a bias statement. You can ask anyone who knows Thane. Tell us where this comes from, what helps you stay the course, and how your life benefits from your discipline?

I think the origin of discipline comes from the sports world, but also my over hypercompetitive nature as a kid. I hated losing in anything. I would do whatever it takes to win. That included practicing shuffling cards for a week in first grade so I can be the best card shuffler in school. I would often practice video game so I could be the best at those, not because I necessarily enjoyed them. I did enjoy them. Golf is a great outlet because that allowed me full control of success or failure. It is an individual sport. A lot of my drive was to be the best in that, which takes discipline but it was driven by this hypercompetitive nature.

UAC 169 | Thane Marcus Academy


The other aspect of it is being the youngest child, I was always wanting responsibility. I was always wanting to be seen as good enough, old enough and responsible enough because I’m always the last one or the late arrival around older people. That developed more discipline in me to be older and better beyond my years, and whatever it is. That’s driven some of it subconsciously. Throughout the years, golf is a main vein of it. As I got into professional golf, I realized that I couldn’t leave any stone unturned in order to be successful. The margin for error was small and the bar was so high between success and failure in that pursuit that I had to become as disciplined as possible in it. That started moving from physical into mental. That’s a much harder realm of discipline because it’s less tangible. You don’t see the results as clearly and it feels harder to make progress in. I remember joining groups with Cody Burkhart, who’s been on the show a couple of times. Check out his interviews if you haven’t. He’s a brainiac, nerd and brilliant guy.

He and his team helped me get on that journey of developing mental discipline in a more systematized way, including the practice of cold showers, which is a great tool for that. When I do interviews with people and they asked, that’s my number one tool I give out. Cold showers are something that you can do every single day that no one wants to do. It’s always something that you don’t want to do, but it has zero negative side effects. You get to practice something that’s uncomfortable, but good for you every single day. I think that’s only going to discipline as is. It’s an action that requires effort and intention. It goes back to this idea of if we don’t choose, we’re going to settle.

Our default is settling as humans. I don’t think there’s any human on this planet who doesn’t begin with the default of settling, meaning they’re going to go down the path of least resistance. It’s like water moving down the river. It’s going to go down the path of least resistance. If there’s a rock, it will just go around it but it’s keeping going down. We will all go down that until we make a choice, and then instill the effort to go upstream. That choice of the intention and the effort is the paddling up the stream to go a different path. Discipline is an upstream pursuit in that, so it’s taking the path of most resistance because we know it’s worth it. Now in my life, it is the key to what I’m doing. Being an entrepreneur and self-employed, you have to be disciplined. If you’re not, it’s not going to be helpful and successful for you or others. That works beyond just the hustle. It’s also in recovery, being disciplined to recover and not burn yourself out by pouring your whole life into something

Outside the realm of work and your endeavors. What has discipline given you?

[bctt tweet=”You’ll experience peace, wholeness, and clarity by the pursuit of self-awareness.” via=”no”]

This is what discipline gives me and everyone else, and that’s freedom. As Jocko Willink says, “Discipline equals freedom,” because it allows our truth to free ourselves to be expressed in their fullness within the healthy expression of it. What I mean by that is that a painting is not a painting without a structure for that painting to go on. There’s no such thing as a painting without a canvass. It has to have that structure, in which in that structure, there’s full freedom. The painting may be anything, whatever you want to be, but it has to be in that structure to be a painting. Similarly, within our lives, when we have a structure for our lives to operate within, we can have the fullest and most free expression of ourselves within that, that will be good for us and others.

When we lose that structure, that full expression is usually harmful to us and for those around us. In general, in life, discipline then unlocks freedom where we think freedom is harmed or hindered by discipline. That comes from our childhood. Most of us as kids were disciplined. That’s always a negative connotation because it’s a consequence for a wrong action. Because of that, we start thinking discipline equals negative. We maintain that into adulthood. That’s real harm to our perception of this idea. By reframing or understanding that some of those origins aren’t true about the thing itself or the root of it. It was a different construct of that. There are two layers there, but it’s not a negative, it’s a positive. It doesn’t harm us, it benefits us.

Would it be fair to say discipline allows us to be our best selves? It helps us bring our best selves today to experiences. Who are these courses for? Could it be for a stay at home mom? Could it be for an entrepreneur just getting off their feet or someone in high school? Who would you recommend?

Those are three good examples. I like all of those. I’ve thought about it and the way I would describe who these are for, and what I often speak to or work with are people that have their surviving needs taken care of, meaning you’re no longer consumed by the mere struggle to survive. Your past your basic survival needs, and now you’re into life. What does it mean to do with your life now that you’re not merely surviving? You’re existing beyond surviving. That can be people in high school and college. They would benefit. It would be an early entrance into these ideas that are life foundational skills. Beyond college, in our careers and in our lives, we all get stuck in these patterns of settling or not taking ownership, which is making excuses, blaming other people, and waiting for a magic opportunity to arrive.

The age isn’t as relevant as those commonalities. It does apply to a stay at home mom. It does apply especially to entrepreneurs. It does apply to someone who has a 9 to 5 job and a family, but is still settling and not owning their responsibility as a dad or a husband, or even in their jobs. They’re doing the status quo, or even on the weekends. They’re not doing anything with their time. All of those things. It applies in such a wide array of situations because it is a core competency as human beings. I built them with the mind of this is something that will give you a process and a framework for growing self-awareness and developing discipline regardless of your place in life.

Speaking from my own experience, I feel those tools will be forever evolving and growing. We’ll always take work as a worthy endeavor. What are we signing up for? What’s the commitment? How many weeks? What do we get in the course?

They are both eight-week courses. At the end of the day, they will be self-directed. You can go as fast or as slow as you want. I encourage and I’ve set it up for it to be eight weeks because that gives you enough time, a length of time, and an amount of effort to make it stick. There is a community aspect of it, so all the students within the course will be able to interact with each other throughout it on this kind of Facebook type. It’s not on Facebook but through the platform. They will have a community aspect to it.

In each course, there is going to be an introductory video, where I gave a little preface for it. There will be the lesson itself where materials are provided. The information is taught through slides and my presentation. There will be a short quiz just to make those important key points stick a little bit deeper by remembering them. I’ll turn into journaling exercises and then additional exercises that will put into action what we just learn in a way to make it tangible and real, and to be able to see results from it. That’s the basic framework and there are some slight nuances on each capsule or lesson that will be different.

[bctt tweet=”Taking ownership is always all about being a good self-leader.” via=”no”]

They are able to be done and gone through independently, but also together. It can be a choose your own adventure. It doesn’t have to be taken together. You can pick one. Maybe you feel good about self-awareness but not so strong and discipline, choose a discipline. Choose your own adventure in that. I’m excited to get these in people’s hands because it’s been a lot of effort. It’s one of the things when you’re creating it, it feels like this will never end. I don’t know if anyone’s going to buy these. I don’t know if they’re going to be beneficial. I don’t know if all this time is wasted on my end. What if X, Y, Z, and all these fears doubts that gets in the brain. Those are subdued by getting it out into the world a lot of time. I’m excited about that.

I have seen bits and pieces but I’m excited to see the finished products. I feel I have my own self-awareness and discipline live-in coach with me at all times. I’m excited for you, Thane. I’m excited to look at it for myself also. What’s the cost? Is there a deal if I buy one? Do I get a certain percentage off on the next one if I choose to do both?

The baseline retail price for each course is $150. If you buy them together, you’ll get them both for $200. With the press tour I’m doing and the early launch, it’ll be available on November 15th. If you use a code preorder, you’ll be able to save $50 on that price on those individual courses. That’s a great way to incentivize to take an action. When you read this and it strikes a chord with you, it’s time to move. It’s time to make this happen. We sit around waiting for inspiration, but inspiration is momentary in fleeting. Motivation is that underlying resounding resolve that says, “I’m going to take action on this because this is who I am.” If that’s you and you’re reading this, I encourage you to use that code preorder and save some money, and move forward.

I would encourage you to do the same. Thane is the best. I am better because of him. I’m excited about how you’re going to impact others with this and equip others.

UAC 169 | Thane Marcus Academy


I appreciate that. It’s fun having you on the other side of the table figuratively speaking. It’s been fun having you direct and lead. You’ve done a great job with this interview.

Thank you. It’s been sweet. I have learned from the best. The final rally cry would be for all of you reading to take ownership and never settle. Where do I sign up?

The best place to go find these courses is at There’s a tab up top that says Courses. You can click on that. You can also go to That’s where you’ll be able to preorder both of them. There is going to eventually be a referral program. If you wanted to earn a little bit of money after you sign up or get into or take the courses, there will be a way for you to earn money back by referring it to other people and getting more people to sign up. I want to earn some money from this route but more importantly, I want to get it into as many people’s hands as possible. I believe that it’s going to be helpful. I believe that what our country and what our world needs is self-leaders. These are two key core competencies for self-leadership.

I am proud of you and I love you. I’m excited to hear how these courses impact others, how they’ve been able to implement self-awareness and discipline into their own lives, and what tools you guys have used to equip yourselves with those things. We all are on the journey and learning from each other. I’m excited to see what comes of it.

Thanks for the interview and it’s fun being with you.

[bctt tweet=”Taking ownership is always all about being a good self-leader.” via=”no”]

I’m proud of you and I love you, Thane. For all you, we hope you have an up and coming day because we’re out.

Following up with one last thing to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from, whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Just go to to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the very next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released on the first Sunday of the month. This is just a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.

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Interviews are a crucial part of any business. It is the first line of defense for businesses that could either make or break them, and we all know how detrimental hiring the wrong person could be. In this episode, Thane Marcus Ringler catches up with his friend Josh Oakes to share with us what goes on in the world of interviewing, how you can interview well, and how, as an interviewee, you can get hired. Josh has been working as a Senior Corporate Recruiter at Agile Sourcing Partners, where he manages the hiring process for the corporate organization as well as their major utility customers all across the United States. On top of the interview process, he also shares with us the story of his life, taking unconventional paths, and transitioning from college to career. At the core of it, he shows us the importance of being the best you, challenging yourself on a daily basis away from living a monotonous life.


Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”168: Fellowship ft. Josh Oakes: Unconventional Paths, How To Interview Well, Transitioning From College To Career, And Being The Best You”]

Fellowship ft. Josh Oakes: Unconventional Paths, How To Interview Well, Transitioning From College To Career, And Being The Best You

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life and the process of becoming. We believe that the best way to go through that process that we’re always in our entire lives is by infusing intention into all that we do. That’s why our mantra is having intention in the tension. Life has a lot of tensions that we get the chance of living in the midst of daily. Thanks for tuning in and being a part of this show and this community, and being a fellow up and comer on the journey of life. We’re glad that you’re here. I can’t thank you enough for tuning in and being a vital part of this growing community.

Do you want to help us out? Do you want to further this community and this message? There are a couple of easy ways to do it. The first that I love to share is by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes, you’re able to help our show be seen by more people. If you do leave one, I’d be happy to read your review. This was a review left by Jeremiah H titled Amazing. “This show is helpful and it helps you understand new things. I can’t wait for the next episode,” prayer hands emoji. Thank you, Jeremiah. That’s a kind comment and I’m glad that you’re enjoying the show. If you have enjoyed the show and you want to help us, please leave us a review and rating on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. That is such a great way to help us up.

Other easy ways, one is sending this episode or the ones you enjoy to a couple of friends. Send it in a text. Share it either to social media channels or even by word of mouth. You can always find us on socials, @UpAndComersShow. That’s a great way to further our community. Finally, if you wanted to put some money where your mouth is and support us financially, that would mean the world. We are on Patreon. You can search for The Up and Comers Show on and become a monthly donator. We rely heavily early on people donating their resources to paying for the expenses of this show. That would be an amazing gift if you want to keep this mission going. That is a great way to be a part of it. Finally, if you have a company and you’d like to partner with us, always feel free to reach out at You can send us opportunities about your business that we can further your work if it aligns with our mission.

We’re going to dive into our episode which is a fellowship. It is more of a peer-to-peer casual conversation. Our guest is Josh Oakes. He resides in Southern California with his wife and two kids. Josh graduated from The Master’s University with a Bachelor’s in Communication. He finished his graduate degree at Azusa Pacific University, studying Leadership and Organizational Studies. He has worked in the world of recruiting and talent acquisition for a few years and has recruited for various organizations in the manufacturing, banking, and construction industries.

He works for a utility service contractor, Agile Sourcing Partners as the Talent Acquisition Manager, where he manages the hiring process for the corporate organization as well as their major utility customers all across the United States. Common positions he hires for include engineers, project managers, business analytics, supply and chain personnel, and more. Josh’s career goal is to diversify his human resources experience as much as possible so that he can help consult businesses of all types and sizes in the future. During his off time, he enjoys doing small weekend getaway trips with his family and hosting barbecues for friends and family. You can connect with Josh on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram to learn more about interviewing or barbecuing.

This was a fun conversation with Josh Oakes. He’s a dear friend of mine, a fellow teammate on our college golf team, a great guy and a great family man. We talk about a lot of pertinent things that I know you’re going to benefit from including interviewing and how to be good at the process of interviewing. He’s been in more interviews than anyone I know. He’s probably done as many at this point. We talk about having a family at a young age and what that experience is like, and the benefits of it.

We talk about how to live at our faith in a corporate environment and about transitioning well from college to career. He has some great insight on that. We talk about the craft of barbecuing and more. It was a fun conversation and a great time catching up with my friend, and also a lot of great tips and tricks for anybody that is looking to improve at interviewing, or has an upcoming interview, or knows that interviewing is an important part of their career. This is going to be one episode that you’re going to want to read. Without further ado, please enjoy this fellowship conversation with Josh Oakes.

Josh Oakes, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Thane Ringler. I appreciate that.

We go pretty far back and there are quite a few memories. We don’t have time to talk about all of them, but I did think the audience would be privy to know that in a former life yours truly would be known as DJ 300. Do you want to fill them in on what DJ 300 is all about?

That was more of a high school reality for me where I was trying to move up the ranks and being popular around school. DJ-ing was coming to be the new thing at that point. I and a friend had a connection with a local DJ who DJ-ed for a radio station and he hooked us up with equipment and we did parties. Anytime we got to get together, we just brought the equipment out. It wasn’t anything. We weren’t good. Now looking back at it, it’s embarrassing but at the time, we thought we were cool.

[bctt tweet=”When you’re a father, you have a lot of different responsibilities that you didn’t have when you were single, let alone with a kid.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

That doesn’t ever change. We still think we’re pretty cool but maybe we know our place a little bit more. Where did the DJ 300 came from? It’s the Chrysler 300, right?

That was a staple. People knew me around campus for my car, not necessarily because of me. It had 22-inch wheels and a Bentley grill. It was a cool car. I don’t drive anything nearly as cool now.

I remember I had a little Toyota Celica and in high school, I badly wanted to get a sub in there. I had a buddy who had a Mitsubishi Eclipse, which is about the same size, super small. He put a couple of twelve in the back and that thing was way too much for that. You had it on just a little bit over and the entire thing was shaking.

What was hilarious was if you saw a picture of me back in high school, I was this skinny little kid. People would see this Chrysler pull up. It had limo tint windows and they would expect someone completely different to get out of this car. A lot of people weren’t expecting me to step out of that car.

The question then that’s lingering in everyone’s minds is, are you actually marshmallow?

I cannot disclose but that would be something I wish. Maybe in another life.

Speaking of this life, a newer hobby that I’m curious to hear from you is your new obsession or love for smoked meats. I got a used grill off of Facebook Marketplace. I’m back on the grill game, which is always fun but I haven’t dived into the smoked meat game much. What’s been springing this hobby for you and what are you most excited about smoking right now?

It’s funny now that I think about it. Looking back to when I was a kid, my mom was always making food at a young age. I come from a Hispanic background. I was always interested in learning how to cook everything that she did. Even at a young age, I was drawn to the kitchen. That fizzled out as I was in high school and went off to college. I think becoming a dad, your hobbies start to change. I don’t have much time to hit the golf course anymore. We were in Texas for a few months right after college. That’s where I was exposed to barbecue and just fell in love with it.

I fell in love with the fellowship and bringing a bunch of people together, and having a good time. I wanted to bring that back to us once we came back to California. I have got into this hobby and have purchased a few barbecue grills. I purchased a lot of them off of Facebook and cleaned them out. I do a lot of ribs, brisket, your traditional Texas barbecue. I’m always looking to try different flavor profiles. It’s a fun thing to do with the family and invite friends over.

Do you have a signature recipe yet or process that you go by?

This is standard for most Texas barbecuers, but I would say ribs are a staple around here. That’s the cook that I have the most fun with just trying different flavor profiles. It’s a long cook, 3 to 5 hours not as long as a brisket. It’s like an art. Even the look of it, it’s awesome. Ribs are one of the things that my family appreciates the most.

UAC 168 | How To Interview

How To Interview: It’s easy for people to try and find that quick remedy that helps them get a paycheck and get into something that is not ideal for their situation and for the long-term.

I’m excited for some of that the DJ 300 smoked ribs next time we’re together.

We’ll be throwing them down.

To give people a little more context, we played golf together in college for a couple of years. Since then, our lives have been parallel but different in many ways. Before we dive into some of the topics that I was excited to hear from you. I’d love to hear maybe giving an overview or a snapshot of what the years since our time in college have held for you, because it’s been quite a lot.

We’ve squeezed in quite a bit of life events in the last couple of years. I think we did graduate at the same time. It was our last semester when Allie and I got married. We were starting right away to that journey of marriage. It was an awesome thing for both of us and a huge learning experience at that age to learn how to be a husband and wife. We got married back in 2013 and six months into marriage, we found out my wife was pregnant. Not only am I a husband but now I’m a father at age 22. We started young. That was not planned. It happened that way. God threw us a curveball. Looking back, I could not see the last few years being any different. It’s been a learning experience for both of us. To be at the age that we’re at now and have the experience and learning together at a young age, that’s helped us to be the parents that we are now in a very unique way. It’s been a blast. I now have two kids. A lot of times when people look at me, they do not expect for me to have two toddlers.

What you said was insightful because the way that we think about it and that more of our culture and modern times think about having kids, starting a family, or even getting married is getting later and later. Often the argument for that or the reasoning behind it is it takes a longer time to learn who you are, figure out ourselves, and discover who we are as people. It’s getting later and later that we mature into who we are. I think that’s part of the argument. What you said is that you had the chance and experience to grow into that together as a couple but also individuals. You knew some of that already where you guys were at. Having to face not only marriage but then parenting at a young age, you discovered both your role together and individually too. Would you say that’s been true? How do you compare and contrast those?

The difficult part was there were not a lot of people around us at the same life stage as us at the same age. A lot of our friends were either still in college or just starting a career. They’re not even thinking about family. It wasn’t even like I could have a conversation with a close friend about growing into that role. We had to learn from each other through that process. That has benefited us the most because it kept us on the same page in a lot of ways. When you’re starting a family, you’re bringing in experiences from my side and my wife’s side. Sometimes parenting can be one of those things where there can be conflicting ideas and how you want that to look like. Because we started at a young age, we were able to come together and work through those things. It was not perfect. There were a lot of struggles that we had. Working through those struggles together has helped us to be the parents that we are now. It’s not the stereotypical way that you would go about that but it worked for us and it’s molded how we view parenthood.

When looking back on those years, do you have any of those struggles that comes to mind that fits as a good example or a good illustration of what you’re saying because we all have these?

When you’re a father, you have a lot of different responsibilities that you didn’t have when you were single, let alone with a kid. One of the toughest parts was that we had a lot of close friends that were exploring the world and doing a lot of fun stuff. It was hard for us because at the time, that didn’t align with what was a priority for us. It was hard for us to stay in connection with a lot of our friend’s groups because we’re at a different stage. One of the things that helped us through that is we found people at the same life stages as us, but a little bit older who might be able to share some of their experiences and their insight. The age gap didn’t play a factor in our relationship. There were a lot of mentorships involved with that and it helped us there. That was probably one of the biggest struggles.

We benefit so much from others alongside us in the journey, whatever stage that is. It doesn’t have to be the same age. That’s one of the things we learned the older we get. Age does not dictate the parallel place in life, especially the older you get. Everyone is in a different place, different process, different experience and levels of maturity. The older you get, the more and more your diversity of relationships increases because you are looking for that compatibility of life stage and season where you can relate on a more experiential level.

Even when I was growing up, having a mentor was something that was recommended to me by a lot of people, professional and personal mentors. That was always something that my wife and I had in the back of our heads when we’re working through marriage and starting a family. We’re clinging to people with similar values and rules as us to be able to provide that insight and that encouragement while we’re going through a lot of those tough times.

I want to hear before we move into another realm here. For people reading, what is the case you would make for starting a family young or going the route that you went? How would you sell that?

[bctt tweet=”Interviewing is about learning how to balance so many emotions.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

It’s backward for a lot of people. A lot of people want to experience life right out of college. We did it backward where we got to put on our big boy pants early on and had these responsibilities. A fun stage for us is going to be, as the kids start to leave the house and we become empty nesters, that’s going to be at a fairly young age for us. It’s going to be exciting for us to have that a little bit early on than most people, and to be able to watch our kids grow and even potentially have grandkids at that point. To be able to live our fond experiences at that point. Another argument is we have different fun experiences at this stage. As much as we’re not able to travel the world and experience new things as a parent, you create these memories that your kids will always remember. That’s special. My son is not even six yet. His memory is insane. You’ll remember the trips that we went on when he was 1 or 2. At the time, we weren’t thinking that was going to be a memorable trip, but you’re creating those memories at such an early stage. It’s a different cup of tea. It is a great experience for us.

As you think about the future and your kids growing up, what do you wish or hope for your son and your daughter? As you raise them, father them, parent them, and see their potential as they keep growing into that, what is it that you are wishing, hopeful or aiming for in their futures?

The biggest thing for us is that we want to establish these relationships with them, not only with us as parents, but also with their family and with their grandparents. We want to be able to have them grow up in a faith-based family, but also a family of love, and a place of comfort and trust that they can look back and remember. That’s so huge to have that family backing. As you go through life and all of your different stages. If you have an inconsistent lifestyle at the house, it’s hard for kids to be able to work through a lot of these stages in life. Our goal has been to create a consistent home for them somewhere where they know that they can be trusted. Somewhere they feel safe and where they know they’re loved at the end of the day. That’s been a goal for us.

Consistency and love are such a great simple foundation for any goal for a parent. You hear stories and you see kids who don’t have a consistent foundation or support system at a young age, how detrimental that is to them through their childhood. I’ve been so blessed by having that consistency and two parents that raised me. I’ve reaped the reward for that more than I’d ever probably recognized or even admit. I remember hearing a story of some friends who adopted a young girl. For the first couple of years of her life, she was in an orphanage where she didn’t have physical human touch of love present in her life. It was more like putting her in a wooden contraption to hold her up and not have any loving human interaction in her life for several years. The amount of damage that did to her development was staggering to hear. It can’t be overstated enough how important that consistency and that love is. I love hearing that you guys are doing that and I’ve seen it. It’s been super fun to watch.

There’s not a manual to learn that. That’s something that you learn through experience. That’s been one of our key takeaways throughout all of these experiences for us.

With starting a family, being in Texas for a bit and back in California, you’ve also chocked that time full of a lot of different opportunities in the work front, and different avenues of jobs and career paths. There are a couple of things that I was excited to hear more from your experience. The first is on interviewing. The second is on the idea of college career transitions. Everyone’s path is unique, but you’ve had a wide swath of experiences in that. Your experience in both of those could be helpful. My type of interviews are much different than your type of interviews. Podcast interviews don’t have the desired outcome other than a good conversation. The interviews that we’re talking about are for a job and for a living. There’s a lot more pressure and it feels a lot more loaded. Out of all my friends, you are the guy who has done more interviews than anyone I know. How many do you think it’s been at this point?

We’re hitting that thousand points. There was a point early on in my career where I was having five interviews in a day. If you multiply that by a few years, it adds up to be a lot. That’s me on the side of the table that I’m on now. I know both of us when we were graduating and figuring out the next steps, I feel like I was in an interview after another. It was this never-ending cycle on both ends. It’s been quite an adventure.

Do you have a favorite interview and the worst interview that you’ve gone to?

Unfortunately, yes. There are many emotions going through in interviewing. You’re nervous but you’re excited. It’s hard to be able to balance all of those emotions and go in, act like you have everything together, and to be able to present that. I remember early on with Allie and I being married at such a young age. I was putting a ton of pressure on myself to probably apply for jobs that I had no business applying to. I remember there was a position in the medical field. I did not take any Anatomy classes or anything in college to even know anything remotely close to the health industry. That is a huge part of the interview process. You are studying the intricacies of the body and you’re having to almost memorize all of these different procedures.

I remember going into an interview and being asked about a different procedure and what I would do to recommend. As I said I didn’t have that backing to know. I’m trying to make up as I go on what I would recommend a doctor to do in this case. You’re talking to a kid fresh out of college who’s just trying to land a job. I completely flunked the interview. I had no business being in that room but it was a learning experience for me to then challenge myself after the fact. I realized that this is not the door that I needed to be in. Let’s try and narrow this search down into something that fits more of me.

I would love to be in that room on the other side. I’m sure you’re not alone. I’m sure that they get a lot of people that are in a similar place of liking the job and the paycheck but have no idea of the experience needed. That’s a hilarious setting and you see that in movies a lot too but it does happen. The whole idea of dreaming big is like, “I’m going to apply for a job that I don’t feel like I’m quite ready for yet.” There’s a limit to that for sure.

UAC 168 | How To Interview

How To Interview: It’s easy to get caught in this space where you’re just living this monotonous life and not challenging yourself on a daily basis.

You’ll learn that the hard way. I learned that early on to where I was able to find a different path that worked out for me. Everyone has a different path. Everyone is not going to take the same route. That is early on an experience for me.

A big part on interviewing is balancing your emotions, which is something that you learned in a lot of arenas like performing or in sports and athletics like in golf. That played a factor. You recognize that and start getting better at that, and then also putting too much pressure on our self. We all do that. That’s a very common part of the puzzle, especially early on when we feel, “It’s our livelihood.” Most of the time, it is our livelihood at stake. We add on this pressure that changes the way that we go about it. What are some other things that you experienced or saw yourself fall into? What was that process of learning to improve that life for you?

I’m trying to understand the realistic expectations for what I wanted. That was a big thing. Out of college, the first question most people ask you is, “What are you going to do? What do you want to do when you grow up?” Most people don’t know that at that stage. You’re trying to figure that out as you go. Most people are just applying to any job they see open at that point to work through that process. The thing for me was to dive into these jobs that are being posted and consider, “Does my skillset or my passion fit what this job is calling for?” That’s not easy to do. A lot of people are just applying and figuring out as they go.

That is such an important part of the interview process. I can’t tell you how many applications I see a day where you can tell by the resume, “This person has no business applying for this job.” There are going to be circumstances behind that. Maybe they’re out of work and transition. They’re applying to everything they can find. At the same time, you want to find something that’s going to set you up for the future, not necessarily for the next six months. It’s hard to get out of that mindset. Finding a job now and getting a paycheck now versus where am I going to see myself in the next five years? Can I see myself doing this job over the next few years? Whatever that comes to be. That’s one of the struggles that I dealt with. I’m sure a lot of people deal with it as well.

I love that you brought that up because our generation and our culture breeds this short-term gratification and this narrow short view of where we’re at and where we’re going. It creates this facade that we can jump a few steps and arrive at the tenth step sooner than taking nine steps to get there. This whole idea that we need to be thinking big picture long-term is, what is the 5 to 10-year goal versus how can I get to this position fastest at all costs and apply to get that without even having the experience or know-how to be there? We all face that in so many ways. It’s true to a greater extent of our generation because of social media, technology, and the information being available to everyone and massively disseminated. It does have more access but it creates a false expectation, which can be hard to overcome.

It all boils down to how people deal with these pressures because it’s a very stressful process. It’s easy for people to try and find that quick remedy that helps them get a paycheck, get into something, but it’s not ideal for their situation for the long-term. That leads to many mistakes down the line where if you could bring in patience into the process, it’s hard to do especially with all of those competing emotions. That is something that can help you out in the long-term.

You find yourself in the role and you’ve been in the space for many years of being a recruiter, and being someone who works on hiring people. You’re on the other side of the interview table. What is it about that transition that surprises you that you didn’t know before being on the other side of the table?

This was nothing that I was searching to become. I didn’t even know this as being a profession. I didn’t have much exposure to any recruiters in college or anything close to that. I fell into the job and I’ve been on both ends. There’s agency recruiting, where it’s more staffing related, finding more temporary to permanent roles for other businesses, to being on the corporate side. One of the things that have stood out to me the most and I wish I knew this when I was on the other side of interviewing for companies is that 70% of the time, hiring managers are more concerned and focused on, “Are you a culture fit for our department and for our company?”

That’s not something that as a candidate I was ever even thinking about in preparation. You’re trying to anticipate what questions are going to be asked. You’re trying to fine-tune your resume and get as prepared as you can be, but you’re not thinking about that cultural aspect. That’s such an important piece because many people go into these interviews with a script. They already have written out how they plan on answering specific questions. From a hiring manager’s perspective, you aren’t getting a true sense of who this person is. That’s one of the biggest drivers that they are focusing on in making these hiring decisions. When you get into an interview room, you’ve already been classified as being qualified for the role. You’ve already checked those boxes of having all of the pre-qualifications to have that job. A manager wants to get to know you. That’s one important key that a lot of people miss out on because they go into interviews so scripted. That is one of the things I wish I knew ahead of time.

That’s also true in podcasts. I’ve been doing a lot of podcast interviews for a press tour for the courses and the book. Being on a bunch of different ones, you see very quickly the difference between prescriptive and intuitive interviewers. In prescriptive conversations, people know what to expect and then get content from it, but they aren’t getting an authentic or genuine conversation. They aren’t getting to know the person in a genuine way. We recognize that when we listened to a conversation that was scripted versus unscripted, we all know inwardly whether or not we even consciously are aware of it. We know what is scripted. Even in an interview room for a job process, you will instinctively be aware of those scripted answers. You don’t get to know a person, you get to know the information that they want you to know, which could be very ungenuine.

Hiring managers want to be able to look at you and plug you into their department and see, “Will this person get along with all of the different personalities that I have on my team?” That’s the first part. The second part is, “Will this person fit in with the goals of our organization from a larger perspective?” It’s not usually a common thought for someone going into the interview. A lot of people lose jobs because they’re so polished and scripted. They don’t give that manager an opportunity to truly get to know who they are as a person.

[bctt tweet=”Being an up and comer, you don’t want to live in this stagnant lifestyle where you aren’t challenging yourself.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

You spoke of being culture fit. This idea of culture and company culture has been buzzing for several years as it’s becoming more and more a selling point of different industries, companies, and talking about their culture. On the applicant side or on the interviewee side, when you’re looking at finding a culture that fits you, what would you recommend to people if they’re focusing on that idea of like, “These hiring managers are probably focused on culture?” How do you go about discerning a company’s culture? What ways would you recommend people who are in that process?

The easy way is asking questions ahead of time. Prior to you being brought into an interview, there’s an initial phone interview where either a recruiter or some representative is going through to determine, “Do you meet the qualifications for the job?” In those phone interviews or in-person interviews, however they come to be, there’s always an opportunity for candidates to ask questions. That’s always one of the things that I’m looking for. It’s to see if the candidates do ask questions. It’s like, “Are they interested in what it’s like to work for our company?” A lot of questions usually will be revolved around the role that they’re applying for and the specifics around that. That’s a perfect opportunity for you to ask questions to understand, what are your company goals? What is important to your company? Is your company involved in community outreach? If so, what are some of the outreaches that you guys do?

Ask questions to get to know that company because you’ll be able then to determine if this is a good company for me to apply for and continue forward with. If you’re able to bring that then into your next interview and to be able to use that as ammunition knowing, “These are the things that I’ve perceived of your company. This is what I think your company culture is like,” that’s huge. To be able to ask those questions, comprehend it, and clarify it later on down the line, that can be such a very important part to you through that interview process. Asking questions is perfect. A lot of people ask me like, “Do I have to have questions ready for an interview. What questions are good questions to ask?” They almost feel like that’s a test at the end of an interview when a recruiter says, “Do you have any questions for me?” A lot of times I tell people, “Get to know that person. What do you enjoy about your job? You’ve been there for five years. What have you liked most about the company that you work for?” Get a sense of what that company is like to work for.

Asking good questions is so important to living a good life at the end of the day. As you’re talking, it’s making me think about this idea of operating from a place of fear versus a place of love. When we operate from a place of fear, it’s usually this scarcity mindset. There’s all this whole framework around it. You get this idea of going into an interview like, “This is one of the only chances I have to get a job, to earn a living, and I better not screw it up.” That’s the scarcity. Now I have to script it and come up with the right answers, be very polished, and be the perfect picture that they want, versus who I am. Versus this idea of abundance or love mentality, where it’s saying, “I am who I am. I’m trying to represent who I am well so that they can know me and see if I’m a good fit. They’re going to know better than I am. I do want the job and show that I’m interested in. I’m going to be curious about them and the company, what the role requires, what they’ve learned, what they’re about. What they’re interested in and what they’re excited about.” Through that, you become much more attractive and usually a better fit. In any company, even if resume-wise doesn’t fit as well.

One unique experience that I can pull from when I was on the other side of the table is I had the opportunity to interview with Google. This was a unique experience for me because I had never applied for a company of Google size. To experience their interview process was amazing. I was a little bit scared. I remember talking to Allie about it and thinking, “Why would they hire me?” I can imagine that there are thousands of applications that they’re receiving on a daily basis. There’s no way my application is going to be at the top of the stack. Having the best experiences that they’re going to interview me. I didn’t get that job, but I got to the very last step. I had the final interview and I had a good shot at getting that job.

Through that experience, I learned that I probably didn’t have the best-looking resume that Google had seen. I was able to portray myself in these interviews to the best of my ability that Google was able to say, “We can see you being a part of our organization.” That’s a critical mindset because a lot of people think, “I have no business applying for this job because there are many people that have better experiences or have a better resume than me.” Nine times out of ten, when our hiring managers are making decisions, we’re not hiring the most qualified person. We’re hiring the person that meets all the qualifications that’s going to fit with our organization long-term. That’s an important mindset for you to be in when you’re going through that process.

It’s fun to see growth within ourselves even in the process. What would you say was the biggest growth that you experienced internally in those mindsets? Do you have any shifts that you made mentally in the way you approached it or viewed the interview that changed the game and how you performed within them?

Ever since I’ve been on the other side of the table in previous jobs, I’ve looked at other recruitment opportunities. Now that I’ve had the experience where I’m the interviewer and I’m a part of the hiring process. I’m able to see what different factors are involved in making a hiring decision. If I were to apply for a new job now, my focus and attention aren’t going to be on, “I need to make my resume pop and make it look like the best resume that this company finds.” What I’m wanting to understand is, “Do these companies’ goals line up with my long-term goals? Is this a place I can see myself at?” That’s not a common mindset for people because a lot of times they go where the money is at. They might be at one job for a year and another job for eight months.

They have this reputation of job-hopping because they want to go where the money is at or they want to go where they’re getting an inflated job title. My perspective has always been finding a place where you are going to fit long-term. There’s also a bunch of people that want to find a place where they can retire. That might be too large of a picture for a lot of people because you’re thinking 30, 40 years down the line, but at least you’re thinking down the road, “Can I see myself not only doing this job today but also growing within that organization?” That is a huge piece. I’m not concerned about, “Am I going to fit in this job today?” I want to know, “Do I have opportunities to grow? What do those look like? Does that align with what I’m looking for?”

It’s encouraging to have growth potential within whatever we’re choosing. That is a great rubric as well. Being someone who came out of college got into a youth ministry role, and then has now found yourself in a much different career than you’ve ever expected. It’s the same with me. I never planned or expected to do any of the things I’m doing now. That is more common than not in people’s experience. In that college to career transition, do you have any other things to share, experiences, even advice, or suggestions for people if they’re approaching that place in life or making any transition in life? What has your wide experience taught you in that?

To have the right mindset and not being too big for an opportunity. You talked about the youth ministry and that was a passion of mine. I thought that’s the direction that I was going to go. During that time, we found out Allie was pregnant. I knew at the time that it was hard for me to get a full-time job with benefits that could support our family. I had to look at different routes. You didn’t mention that I was in car sales for a while. Not a lot of people would see me as a car salesman. That shift in perspective for me. I don’t know that I see myself being a car salesman but at the same time, I’m not going to say that I’m bigger than that opportunity. I’m going to give it a shot because the door opened and make the most of it.

UAC 168 | How To Interview

How To Interview: A lot of people lose jobs because they’re so polished and scripted. They don’t give that manager an opportunity to truly get to know who they are as a person.

I didn’t get my first recruitment job if I wasn’t in that car sales role. That’s what stood out in my resume because they liked that sales background. In a recruitment role, you are selling an organization. I don’t know that I would be in my seat now if it weren’t for those previous experiences. If I would have looked at those from the mindset of, “I’m not a car salesman. I’m not going to do that job.” I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at now. If you can go into those experiences with an open mind, you may be in a career completely different down the road, but it might be because of those entry-level experiences that you had right out of college.

I also would like to make a disclaimer, he was a good salesman at that too. He was killing the game. I remember that. I got to see that in action back in the day.

I was selling Fords and now, everyone in the family and all my friends have Fords.

I’ve got a Ford too. Subconsciously you implanted that, and now here we are. Don’t be too big for the opportunity. That can’t be stated enough. Even for myself, I’ve been trying to grow more of the speaking side. That’s been a slow process. A lot of times we like to think, “I’m going to hold this high level for my brand that only accepts this level of payment or whatever it may be.” I remember talking to Ben Courson on the show. He was like, “For several years I said yes to every single opportunity came my way so I can get the experience and get out there, and be in front of many people as possible.”

The great thing is don’t be bigger than any opportunity that’s in front of you. We’re naive or ignorant when we do think we’re bigger then because every single opportunity matters. It’s an opportunity to grow as a person but also impact those around us. A big part of our lives is our faith. Being in a corporate environment is a tough place sometimes to be living in alignment with our identity and our ideals as followers of Jesus. From your experience in your time there, what has been your approach in operating within HR standard, but also being a light and being someone who’s impacting your workspace for the kingdom?

It’s interesting coming from the ministry background I was in a role where I was able to teach through scripture and on a daily basis, be able to walk people through their journey with Christ to now being in a corporate environment where I am part of the human resources team. There are certain things that you can and can’t say. What I’ve learned through that is just the simple decision in holding to your values, it may sound a little cheesy, but that goes a long way. I remember early on in the job that I’m in now, there were experiences where I made mistakes. The mistakes cost us money. It’s going to be hard for anyone to own up to that and say, “That was on me.”

It might be easy to try and push it off and not take ownership. I was nervous going into my boss’ office about to admit, “That mistake was on me, this is what I did.” My boss was put back based on that conversation. I could have easily swept it aside and not taken ownership. It wouldn’t have gotten noticed, but he appreciated the fact that I was truthful. I had no reason to push that off on anyone else. The simple thing of holding to your values in a corporate environment is so important. When you’re in that environment, there are many daily decisions that you’re involved with that affect many pieces of the puzzle or many parts of the business.

If you’re able to set yourself apart by holding strong to your values, people notice that. Not only that, it’s also infectious. I have an employee that works side by side with me. If I’m able to instill that that’s important in this space, he’s going to be able to take that and make similar decisions. I don’t know if he’s a believer or if he has faith, but at least it’s creating some good in sometimes a very toxic environment. It seems simple but it’s one way that you’re able to shine some light on that.

Holding to your values and the example you shared is showing that it’s generative. It creates that in others. We can create a culture of that by the example that we live in. Taking ownership is such an awesome way, especially for our mistakes to show that, “I’m not doing this because it’s fun or I’m comfortable with what I want to do, but it’s because it’s who I am as a person. It’s my values, my integrity and my character. I’m going to take ownership of these mistakes even though I know they cost a lot of money and it could cost me my job, or it could cost me some of my paychecks.” It’s so powerful that testimony of living in alignment with our character, ideals and our faith. It’s a non-negotiable. It’s going to make a difference.

I’ve always wanted to leave different conversations or situations with whoever else is involved in those experiences with me to come away from it, asking the question, “Why did he do that? What made him make that decision?” Maybe it’s not normal. As believers, if we’re able to do that with nonbelievers, we’re doing our job because they’re seeing the light in us, and then asking that question, “Why is he like that? Why did he do that?”

It’s such great practical wisdom. I love what you’ve shared. We’re going to round out with a few one-offs here before we’re done. The first is going to be less, more and not. What do you want to do less often, more often and not at all?

[bctt tweet=”Being the best you is what every single person needs collectively to create the most unity in this very divided time. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]

I have a dad bod now. I’ve had this thought in the back of my head where I need to take action and make better decisions. In college, we were eating and putting whatever into our bodies. I need to eat a lot less junk food. That’s tough to do, especially with how much I cook and barbecue. I want to travel more and I didn’t do that as a kid. My wife did more so than myself. She’s more of the adventurous. I’ve wanted to push myself to do that more. We’ve started to move that way. We’re going out fishing and starting to talk about camping. That’s something that I would want to do more. For not at all, there are a lot of opportunities for me that I need to cut things out, but let’s revisit that.

What question do you ask yourself the most?

I am asking myself, “Was I the best me?” What I mean by that is with the opportunities, with the circumstances that came my way, did I make the best decisions that align with what I want in life? Whether that’s dealing with fatherhood. I would say more self-evaluation because it’s easy to get caught in this space where you’re living this monotonous life and you’re not challenging yourself on a daily basis from a mindset perspective. I always am questioning, “Was I the best dad? Was I the best husband? Was I the best employee? Was I the best brother?” They present opportunities for me to get better.

What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?

I’ve had finished my Master’s program. I was reading a lot. There was a book called Leading Change. I don’t remember the author. What stuck with me in this book is it took leadership to a whole new ball game for me. I’ve had experiences with good leaders, but learning how to bring about change in an organization and a home in many different facets of our life, that challenged me in a lot of different ways. That was a good book.

If you could teach a class for a semester, what would you teach and why? You can also pick the age.

I did take a career class in high school. It was a program called AVID where it starts to ingrain what you want to do for your career. Where do you want to go to school? That would be something of interest because that’s been something that I’ve been heavily involved with. I’m still somewhat young where I think I can make those connections with high schoolers to be able to shed some light on that experience and provide some direction for them.

Last question, the one we ask every guest is if you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what would you say and why? This would be a short message they receive from you every morning on their phone.

I’m going to go with the same question that I asked myself and revolving around self-evaluation, “Are you being the best you?” Being an up and comer, you don’t want to live in this stagnant lifestyle where you aren’t challenging yourself and all of these different circumstances, especially in our stage of life. We’re going through many different things within our economy. Some historic things where we need to be challenging ourselves to be better friends, to be better coworkers, to be better neighbors. If we can spread that one person to another, that will be infectious. That’s what we need. We’re in a pretty bad state as far as a community is concerned.

I couldn’t agree more. Being the best you is what every single person needs collectively to create the most unity in this very divided time. This has been a blast. Thanks for coming on and sharing a bit of your experience, life and journey this far. It’s been fun to watch from afar and up close at times. I’m stoked for what’s ahead for you and your beautiful family.

Thank you. I appreciate you having me. I’d like to also say to any of the readers. I’m more than welcome to offer an assisting hand. If anybody wants any advice on interviews or wants to run a resume by me, I would love to be able to help anyone that might need some support in that arena. Thane, feel free to publish my email address or anything.

UAC 168 | How To Interview

Leading Change, With a New Preface by the Author

Tell the people where’s a good place to connect with you. That’s always the last thing I end with. Where can people find you and where can they reach out to you?

My Instagram handle is @Joakester. I’m on there quite a bit or Facebook. For business purposes, if anyone wants to reach out to me, just my full name, Feel free to send me your resume and some questions that you might have. I’d love to help.

This has been awesome. I love you and I appreciate you and your family.

Thanks again for the opportunity. I cherish our friendship and I enjoyed the conversation.

For all of you reading, we hope you have an up and coming week because we are out.

Following up with one last thing to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering, or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the very next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released on the first Sunday of the month. This is a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.

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About Josh Oakes

UAC 168 | How To InterviewCurrently, I am the Corporate Recruiter at Agile Sourcing Partners with an interest in building the most effective workplace possible. I specialize in managing the hiring process effectively in order to retain high level candidates. I am passionate about being a business partner to my organization and supporting our hiring managers and employees to be set-up for success to achieve department and company goals. I have experience working in the Utilities, Finance and Staffing industries.

When I’m not on the job, I love spending time with my wife and two kids, being on the golf course, and working with kids in the local community at my church.

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UAC 167 | Mind Game Of Golf


The mental and emotional game is just as important as our physical when it comes to success. Long intrigued by this fact, former professional golfer, Rick Sessinghaus, studied the mental and emotional skills that make or break a performance. In this episode, he joins host Thane Marcus Ringler to share those with us along with his journey as a mental coach, helping others’ performances through the ultimate mind game of golf. Together, and with the help of Rick’s book, Golf, they cover a wide range of topics, including learning from failure, holding high integrity in your life, Rick’s career path, the importance of full commitment, the role of meditation, and why self-awareness matters. Through it all, Rick has now found more satisfaction helping others achieve their dreams than ever before. Listen in on this conversation as he lets you in on that and imparts great wisdom to guide you in your own journey towards success.

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”167: Rick Sessinghaus: The Power Of Full Commitment: A Coach’s Journey Into Enhancing Others’ Performance Through The Ultimate Mind Game Of Golf”]

Rick Sessinghaus: The Power Of Full Commitment: A Coach’s Journey Into Enhancing Others’ Performance Through The Ultimate Mind Game Of Golf

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life, which we believe takes living with intention in the tension. Life has a lot of tensions that we get the chance to live in the midst of daily. We believe the best way to do that is by infusing intentionality into all that we do in this show. On this show and in this community, we interview other up and comers on their process of becoming, in this journey of becoming that we’re all in, hopefully, our entire lives, as we’re lifelong learners. Thanks for being a part of this community and this movement. I’m excited about this interview.

Before we get there, we’d love to invite you to help us out by a few easy ways. If this show has been helpful, impactful, or meaningful to you in any way, it would mean the world to us if you gave us a minute of your time to first leave us a rating and review on iTunes. It takes about 60 seconds through Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen, you can click the five-star button if you enjoy it. Maybe even write a few words. We are over 100 and that’s been a sweet milestone, but there’s a lot more of you, so let’s make it happen to maybe number 200.

If you want to spread the word, a great way to help us out is by sending this episode or sharing it online with people in your community. You can tag us on the socials @UpAndComersShow and we’d love to have a shout out there. Finally, if you want to support us financially, we are on Patreon where you can subscribe to monthly donations to help us keep this thing going. It’s not free, it’s not cheap and it’s not easy. Any amount of monthly donation is appreciated. You can go to Patreon and search The Up And Comers Show there. Finally, if you have a business and you’d like to partner, we are always open to hearing about your business and about your work. If we can partner together and level up, that would be awesome as well.

This is an interview featuring Rick Sessinghaus. Who is Rick? As a former professional golfer, Rick has now found more satisfaction helping others achieve their dreams than he did in his own competitive career. Long intrigued by the fact that physical skills were rarely the determining factor in athletic success, he studied the mental and emotional skills that make or break a performance. Adding to his Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications, Rick received his Master’s and Doctorate Degree in Applied Sports Psychology.

As he continues to enrich the quality of people’s lives through his proven performance enhancement system, Rick is constantly researching the latest scientific findings pertinent to achievement in golf, business, and life. He authored the book Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game and Rick has been PGA champion Collin Morikawa’s swing and mental coach since Collin was eight years old. Rick is also the Mental Performance Consultant for UCLA men’s golf team. He lives with his beautiful wife, Kathy and daughters, Grace and Katy, and son Grant in Burbank, California.

This was a fun conversation and interview with Rick. We cover a wide range of topics, including learning from failure, holding high integrity in your life, his career path, the importance of full commitment, the role of meditation, why self-awareness matters. Rick’s new book and work focus on his success with Collin Morikawa and much more. It was jam-packed and having similar backgrounds, I connected deeply with Rick. I appreciate his time, energy, personality and the work he’s doing is exciting. If you like the game of golf or you want to learn a little bit more about what goes into coaching the game of golf and the mental side, this is one you’ll definitely enjoy. It relates directly to life. Without further ado, please enjoy this interview with Rick Sessinghaus.

Rick Sessinghaus, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much, Thane. I’ve been looking forward to this.

Ever since first connecting in LA, you’ve been on my mind as someone I’d love to have on and dive in deeper because we share a lot of ideas about the game of golf and how it relates to life. I want to dive into all of that, but also all of your story that’s fascinating. You were generous for your time earlier and now. Thank you for coming on and sharing.

[bctt tweet=”When you have a very clear boundary/standard, it helps us have clarity for what we want.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

The first place I want to start is this question, what is total commitment to you? When did you first learn it? To give people a context on that, when I asked some background references about Rick, I often ask how they would describe Rick in two words. Multiple people said committed or totally committed. Commitment is a big part of who you are. I’m curious, what is total commitment to you? How would you define that? When did you first learn it?

I first learned it from failures, from looking back at why I didn’t achieve a goal and knowing that if I did it at 95%, I could look at it and that the 5% may have been the difference to not being able to be there. When you go through enough failures or when you let yourself down enough, you finally have to look in the mirror and say, “Are we either in or out?” As I’ve grown as a person, when I do commit and I’m all-in, there are no excuses, there are no rationalizations. It doesn’t always mean I succeed, but when I’m committed, I can look at myself in the mirror and say, “You did all you could today. Your mindset was there. You took the actions that you said you were going to be. You held yourself in high integrity of what you said you did.” That to me is total commitment.

When I was younger, whether it was golf, you say, “It’s the physical skills and if I hit the ball better,” and stuff like that. Yet I knew deep down, it was also about mental skills, going into the gym, and eating right. It was all about that. Total commitment to me is all in. There’s a saying that it’s easier to do something at 100% than it is 99%. When you have a very clear boundary/standard, it helps us have clarity for what we want. The most thing was to be in congruency with myself which is this is what I want to do. This is what I know needs to happen, do it.

In those early years in those failures, do you have any favorite failures or ones that stand out that instilled this deeper within you, to where it led to you finally recognizing or making these changes and instilling or living a life of total commitment?

A story that I say a lot in some of my corporate speaking and I share with some of my golf clients is I had the opportunity to try out for the Cal State, Northridge golf team as a freshman. I was doing well until the last shot. In that last shot, I had a decision to make of going for this par 5 and 2. If I parred the hole, I probably would’ve made the team. If I didn’t, I wasn’t going to make the team. It was very much here’s the line in the sand. You’re going to succeed or you’re going to fail on this huge goal of mine, which was to play college golf. At that moment, my whole mindset and emotions shifted to one of fear, to one of don’t hit it in the water, to don’t screw this up.

Fortunately, I did hit it in the water because that changed the course of my life, where at that point I thought it was all about the physical. For 71 holes, I was in control of my emotions. I was in control of my focus. In that last shot, I was not. I was distracted. I was in fear-based and it cost me to be on the team that year. What it taught me now was that I had a blind spot and that I needed to train that blind spot. That’s why I said even though it was a failure, it was the best thing that could happen to me in my life because that led me down that road of understanding mindset and other principles that’s helped me as a coach. That’s helped me as a career. Now my career is all about that mindset. It does stem from that one golf shot that went into the water.

That is a powerful illustration and story. In these moments in times that are massive shifts in the way we think about things, we can all relate to that, but then comes the process of making that the habit and instilling it. From that point on, what would you say are the phases, the seasons or the process for you of living and holding yourself in high integrity? I’d love to have you speak a little bit on that because this idea of holding yourself to high integrity is a powerful concept. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on that and the process it was for you.

Growing up, my parents were very supportive. My dad was hard on me when it came to sports. My mom has unconditional love about sports. She didn’t care if I won or lost, but my dad had some different motivations for that. Once I declared to other people like my parents that I want to be a professional golfer, or to my wife that I want to be a performance coach, they’re going to hold me accountable for that. “You told me you’re going to do this and I haven’t seen that yet.” Early on, I relied on people that I trusted and that I knew wouldn’t let me get by on just talking. They wanted to see action. My dad, as hard as he was on me at times, which I felt was unfair, that same discipline of what he instilled in me did make a big difference as I got older and older. There was hard work that was required.

UAC 167 | Mind Game Of Golf

Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game

My wife is now someone who says, “You said you were going to do this,” and say a little waffling. She’s going to help hold me accountable. I can’t say that I have this undeniable internal drive all the time. That’s just me. I’m fortunate that I’ve had parents and a wonderful wife. I have some other friends that I share some of my goals with that may remind me every now and then to say, “You said you were going to do that.” As with anything, you have a habit. Once you make that statement, “This is my intention to do this,” you do it a little bit more and a little bit more. It does build its muscle to where you finally know that is who you are. That’s everything from working out in the morning to meditating and stuff like that. That’s who you now become. I’m very much into your identity and who do you want to become, what are the behaviors that would lead to that, what are the habits that are going to lead to that and let’s start with the simplest one first.

In your life now, what would you say are some of those habits or structures for you? What helps you live with integrity now?

Clarity of not only what I want, which used to be a big focal point, but clarity on who I want to be. That’s why I say I’m more identity-based now than I am goal-driven. I tap more into my values of wanting to be of service to others and wanting to be a coach that cares and listens. I tap more into that. The big shift for me in the last few years seems like a very simple exercise of a gratitude journal. When I focus more on what I’m grateful for than what I don’t have, it’s amazing the shift that occurs in my life.

I look at everything differently. Even if something on the surface looks like something bad happened to me, I then look back and go, “I’m grateful that that occurred because that led to something else.” I’m a lot less reactive than I have in the past. That’s part of gratitude journal. My meditation practice is more of guided visualization than it is maybe a typical breathing meditation or something like that. That’s also helped me get clarity on visualizing not what I want, but who I want to become.

I’m curious to hear a little bit more on the meditation practice because this is something that is growing in popularity for good reason. There’s more and more science proving the Eastern way of medicine and also life and how meditation is integral to not only clarity but also living in alignment with our identity. There’s a lot of confusion. There’s a lot of information and people often don’t know where to start. For you, what helped get into meditation? How would you describe the guided visualization? It sounds like an interesting version that I haven’t heard of before.

As a game coach, you have a lot of tools at your disposal. I’ve read certainly about meditation for years and I did not practice it per se. I’ve always felt that as a coach, I should at least try things that I am telling people to do. It started off as that, whether it was simple breathing patterns that I wanted to try or mantras or something like that. At the start, there were very minor benefits, but a lot of it was about self-awareness. Once I became more aware of the present moment, aware of my thoughts and also knowing that I could refocus, then I go, “I don’t have to be as reactionary as I used to be.”

That was the starting point. What I found is everybody has busy schedules. I try to always leverage my time. I said, “If I’m going to spend 10 to 20 minutes,” which is a normal block of time for me when I wake up in the morning to do this, “could I add any other elements that could help me?” I studied a lot of Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work. He wrote a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, which is one of maybe my top three books of all time. I downloaded his app and I’ve done some of his meditations. I liked the combination of starting off with maybe some more traditional meditation of focusing on breath, maybe focusing on how your body is feeling and then use that. Now you’re in a certain state and then going into a guided meditation of more of what I want to be or already see myself being that person.

Also, a little bit of potentially what those goals were. As I said, it was more about the beingness and also with mindfulness. I’m certainly using it with my athletes and clients knowing that you have the ability at any moment to refocus. We don’t look at meditation as, “I can’t do it and I’m bad at it.” It’s missing the point of the exercise in and of itself. It’s an exercise. It’s a tool. For some, it can be spiritual-based and it can be something they do in their religion. That’s fine. For me, it’s an exercise of awareness and understanding that I do have a choice on what I focus on next. That’s my biggest part of mindfulness meditation. The guided visualization. It helps keep my mind active in a way. I know some people say, “Meditation is about slowing things down.” I get it but I like putting that emotion in the visual of what I want. It kickstarts my day with intention because now it’s setting the stage, “Rick, you visualize what you want to be. Now, it’s time to live that way.”

That is a powerful form and practice of it and it’s also actionable. It’s super easy to say, “I get that structure and framework and I get why that works, and now I’m going to test it out. That’s a helpful form and I’m excited to do some of that myself. I’ve done more of the mindfulness meditation side of things and that’s been super helpful for me. Yet, it’s still hard to commit to because for people that are on the go and trying to accomplish things, I’m an Achiever on the Enneagram, which can get me in trouble at times. That doesn’t feel like achieving, but that’s the point. It’s a practice. That’s always been the obstacle for me and I was better at it when I played golf, but now it has been harder to incorporate for sure. You mentioned Dr. Joe Dispenza and I am a huge fan. His book, You Are the Placebo, was a mindblower and so powerful. I’m excited to get the one that you mentioned as well. Who are some of the other authors that you’ve looked to in this space that have benefited or grown your perspective in these realms?

[bctt tweet=”Flow is not about when things are easy. It is having the tools and strategies to take on challenges where you can be fully present.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

It’s a funny story. When I was sixteen years old, my parents asked me a typical question, “What do you want for Christmas?” This is a long time ago. At that time, there was a shopping channel called QVC and they were selling Denis Waitley’s The Psychology of Winning audio and a video set. I said, “That’s what I want.” They go, “What? That’s what you want?” I go, “Yes, I like it. He works with the Olympic.” That spiraled into Tony Robbins. I’ve gone to a couple of Tony Robbins seminars. It’s gone into a lot of Dr. Joe Dispenza. The list does go on and on but if I’m thinking of the last few years, I’ve been studying a lot of stuff with Navy SEALS, some Mark Divine. He’s so influential because he’s been in the war zone and how he can come out with such a calmness about him. He has a few books out there that I’ve gone into.

There have been many people. I have a ton of books, but I may not read them cover to cover. I like to read on a subject. Let’s say it’s emotions, I can pick a chapter out of that, that was about emotions. That’s how I like to research things. I get into a specific subject matter, then I take a lot of different things from different people. When I was younger, Wayne Dyer was a big influence on me a little bit on the spiritual component. Honestly, it became a lot about sports psychology and whether it was Terry Orlick or Jim Loehr who had The Power of Full Engagement, which is a great book. That starts off as sports, but then it gets into corporate. There have been a ton of influences on me.

The Power of Full Engagement was such a beautiful and simple framework for a powerful and important concept. You mentioned Mark Divine. That guy is a stud. There’s so much we can learn from those people. Have you ever heard of Kokoro Camp?

Certainly. I was supposed to do the twelve-hour one. I did injure my knee but I was training. I was doing CrossFit for two years. I was getting in pretty good shape. I did a Spartan to get prepped for it. I definitely know a lot about the Kokoro.

It’s been on my secret bucket list for a while because I know how much it could unlock, but the price tag and the suffering involved, it’s scary in a lot of ways. I feel like that’s the most beautiful thing about it.

I took on a Spartan race as a mini version of that. It’s something I’ve never done. I try to get my clients to get outside their comfort zone. I try to do one thing a year that gets me outside of my comfort zone. In 2019, I took a wonderful coaching class called Optimize and went through their certification. At the end of it, your graduation was to do a Spartan Race. Even though I felt I was fairly athletic, I had never done any obstacle course racing. You now have this thing and it was very uncomfortable. There was a lot of anxiety that came to me as we got through the first obstacle.

It kicked my butt. Yet, I look back and go, “I can’t believe I got through that.” I had a friend that helped me honestly get through that. His coaching and kicking me in the butt and saying, “Come on, let’s do it. One more step.” That was my version of that. That can build like with Tony Robbins. I went to the Unleash the Power Within where I’m walking across the hot coals. There are things that once you get through that, it’s now in my own computer file up there saying, “When things get crappy, I’ve done that stuff before. I can pull that back up. You could do that.” Maybe you take a small version of it right now and take that next step.

I’m going to take that advice. I need to think on what that will be. One thing to get out of your comfort zone is such a great ritual and rhythm. Do you have any other notable or favorite uncomfortable experiences from that commitment or what is the one coming up on your list to be done?

There are two right now. One is I’m writing a new book and this book is more personal than the other book that I wrote. It’s requiring me to go at a deeper level emotionally, to be vulnerable and to push myself. Writing the book itself is a pain in the butt. This has a little difference to it because I want this to be a book that impacts many. I want it to have a high standard to it. With that, I know there has to be another depth of me as an author to that. That’s what I’m going through there. There’s another project that I’m working on about flow in life. I’m very excited about that. It hasn’t been made public yet, but I’m going to be a spokesperson for a particular company that is related to let’s live life in more of a flow state, in a focused state, in a loving life for what it is in that moment. I’m very excited about that, but that has taken me out of my comfort zone.

UAC 167 | Mind Game Of Golf

Mind Game Of Golf: The flow state is when you’re at your best because you’re fully focused on the present moment. You’re bringing a true drive and love for what you’re doing at that moment.


Rick, what you said about this concept of flow and living in flow is something that could be powerful for individuals and communities alike and beyond. It leads to some major impact that’s needed. I’d love to hear you talk a little bit more about what living in and with flow in our everyday lives could entail.

For me, flow always started with sports. Certainly, I’m in a flow state. I’ve had athletes who have been in a flow state where they’re at their best. They perform their best and they feel their best. I contrast that with unfortunately, how a lot of people are living their lives right now. They’re living their lives through reaction. They’re allowing the environment to tell them how they’re supposed to feel. They’re allowing their phone to dictate their focus. They are getting bothered with politics and news and that’s going to dictate how they feel. It saddens me because I don’t want to give up my control of how I’m going to feel. Our society is doing that more and more.

I work in some of the corporate environment and I see burnout and stress. I see people who are not fulfilled with what they’re doing. I’ve studied a lot of the flow state, which is you’re at your best because you’re fully focused on the present moment. You’re bringing a true drive and love for what you’re doing in that moment. There is no extrinsic reward to it. You’re doing it to do it. When we can now be intentional with our focus and we can be intentional with how we want to be, that’s what life was supposed to be about. I’m living life. In our environment where there’s more pushed on us, people have more responsibilities, they’re overwhelmed and they’re stressed. I’m not hearing from a lot of people that they’re fulfilled. Flow is a way to deal with what’s happening in your environment.

This is not about going on a mountain top and being away for a minute. Flow is about challenge. It is about taking one challenge. We talked before about I want to make myself uncomfortable and be able to deal with that uncomfortable in such a way to where I thrive in it. One of the key elements of focus is the skills and challenge combination. If I am being challenged, I got the skills to take it on. How rewarding is that when we have a challenge in front of us? It does require all of our skills. It requires our focus. We’re so focused and we take care of it. We do it and we go, “That feels awesome.”

Flow is not about when things are easy. Flow is not about, “This is a perfect utopia world. I get to be on the beach all the time.” It’s about having the tools and the strategies to take on challenges in such a way that I can be fully present in the moment, and want to be in that moment. Most of us look at, “If I could get through this, I’ll get to that.” That cycle is continuously all the time. I believe flow is going to be a game changer as we move forward.

I heard you mentioned how it leads to less fulfillment when we are more reactive and not in control of our own mindset, reactions, and thoughts. I love how you framed that it’s not happiness, it’s the fulfillment that we all long for in a lot of ways. You’re so right. I know from my own experience, anytime that I’ve had a challenge that seems almost beyond, but maybe within my grasp and you’re able to do it, that is the most fulfilling feeling in the world. It’s unlike any other. It’s like you in the Spartan Race. Even in the midst of it, “I don’t know if I can do this,” and still finishing and having that exhilaration that comes from it. It’s fuel and a life-giving source in a lot of ways.

In the line with the challenge, some of the latest research on flow says that when you’re challenged 1% to 4% out of your current skillset is when you’re going to get into flow. When people have a lot of anxiety in their life, they’re in that moment. They’re viewing the challenge is greater than their skills. As a coach, but even in my own life, if I start feeling anxiety, I look at it and go, “In this moment, the challenge that’s been brought to me,” which happened to be a deadline on a project. It seemed too great. The old me would have gotten stressed, overwhelmed, and allow that to dictate my emotions the rest of the day. I’m still learning by any means. I still have those reactive days, but now I look at it and go, “What can I do? Is there a certain thing I can do to bring a different skill to the table? Could I have somebody help me that has their own skills to bring to the table? Do I need to change the challenge level? Am I even looking at the challenge and the correct perception and in the right way?”

I have now been able to look at challenges differently. It’s back to what we were talking about even with mindfulness meditation. I now understand when I’m being reactive. In sports, if the team is not doing well, the coach calls a time out. Sometimes you’ve got to call a time out and say, “It isn’t working right now. We need to regroup. Let’s take a breath. Let’s focus for a second on what we need to do.” Maybe I’ll walk my dogs around the block. That gets my mind off of the problem and then I can come with a different perspective. Those are the things I’m still learning, but it has made a big shift into my life. I’m hoping to make changes in other people’s lives with that.

I’m excited to see what comes with that project. When it comes out, I’m excited to learn more. You mentioned writing. I want to talk a little bit about that too. You had a first book titled The Ultimate Mind Game. I’d love to hear a little bit about that initial book and what that was all about for you and how you’ve even changed as a writer. You already touched on that briefly, but maybe give people a little bit of sense of that. I’m curious to hear a little bit more on it as well.

[bctt tweet=”A fundamental question of personal development is self-awareness.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

It’s interesting because writing the first book brought up a lot of beliefs. I’m going to say limiting beliefs here because they were. It was my final project for my doctorate in Applied Sports Psychology. I had an opportunity to either do a research paper or they said you can publish a book and it had to have X amount in it. I said, “I’ll just write a book. How hard could that be?” It had an end goal to be published and then that would be my final project for my doctorate. What it helped me understand was I did have a limiting belief saying, “Rick, you’re a better speaker than you are a writer.” I’m already creating these belief systems and it could be every simple thing like, “I’m not even sure what proper grammar is.”

I have a lot of these belief systems that were coming in because this was going to be a published book. This is not a blog post that three people are watching. I had to deal with some of that at the start of the process and then I was fortunate enough that my dad was a part of this. I had another friend who was an editor and I said, “This is what this book is going to be about.” As I started writing, I started getting into my own way of framing it. How I wrote the first book was every chapter was framed in a certain way. It was basically an outline. To me, I could deal with an outline more than I could deal with a blank piece of paper that said, “What have you got today?” I threw out concepts first and created a somewhat structured outline, and that at least got my writing moving forward.

Once I got past the limiting belief of, “I’m not a good writer,” and how I did that was I had a belief that I’m a very good speaker and communicator. I said, “What if I brought the same voice and tone to my writing as I do my speaking?” That’s what started me moving forward and gaining some momentum. I took something I felt I was good at. It’s still communication. It’s in a different form and brought that into it. That book was written many years ago. What I’ve learned since then is as my new book coaches and talked about the first draft is horrible. Do not have the first draft be what you think you’re going to be publishing because it’s not going to happen.

You and I have talked about this with golf. I don’t look at it as a failure per se, but if that first chapter doesn’t meet my expectation, that’s okay. Let’s learn, make some adjustments and move from there. That first book was one of those challenging things. I had to break through some limiting beliefs. As I got more momentum, I created my own voice with it. I’m proud of the book. Now, I look back at it and it reads a little bit like an instructional manual in a way. It’s a little bit more regimented in here are the things you’re going to do. Here are the bullet points and stuff like that. As I said, I’m proud of it. I evolved now many years later to write this next book. I have a coach who’s pushing me to create stories and to get deeper. It’s not all about the facts and all that stuff. I’m evolving now as a writer for this next book.

Thank you for sharing your process in that. That’s helpful for me or anyone to know in the process. It’s never this clean step-by-step regimen that you go through to create anything and let alone a book. Hearing how you overcame those self-limiting beliefs, especially in setting yourself up for success by framing it in a way that you could get behind of the outline. I did a very similar thing with mine as well because it gives you some place to start going, “I don’t even know where to start.” By putting this framework together, it’s like, “I can start moving forward.” It’s such a helpful way, especially if someone is wanting to write for the first time. What a great way to follow and mimic. That is wise advice.

As you’re saying now, what I’ve realized too in my writing is the same thing. Stories and illustrations are often the hardest thing to get right. Anybody can get the facts together, but telling a compelling story that makes it sit down deep in your bones, it’s the same as speaking, but that’s a refined skill that is very undervalued. I want to get to your doctorate and in some of your other certifications, but I want to paint a little bit more of the backstory before we get there. You mentioned at sixteen wanting this book series for Christmas. That’s very unusual for most sixteen-year-olds, myself included. I wanted the newest toy or probably new shoes at that point. What was your childhood like and where did this drive for success or performance come from for you?

As I look back, I love sports. That was something that was always offered to me from my father. I played baseball, basketball, football, tennis, then I played golf. I started golf right before I turned thirteen. We had a basketball hoop in the backyard. We played football. That was always there. I associated sports with time with my dad. That was for the most part, positive. My dad was my football coach. He was a disciplinarian when it came to sports and he had high standards. I look back at it now and it helped me become disciplined. I understood the work ethic that was involved to get to a goal.

I’ve had this conversation with my dad. It led to me being a perfectionist that the only way that I was going to get my dad’s attention was not only to play sports, but to play it at the highest level and to be perfect. You and I both know that that’s unattainable yet in an 11, 12, 13, 14, 15-year-old kid, if I’m saying, “I want to spend more time with my dad. I want my dad’s approval,” we’ll call it that. If I do this better, I’m going to get more approval. I was pretty driven from a sports standpoint. I was a decent student. I wasn’t somebody who was trying to be a straight-A student. This was only specific to sports. For whatever reason, when the Denis Waitleys or the Tony Robbins came across me, I used it as it will make me a better golfer. It wasn’t always about being a better person per se. It was more sports first, but as you and I have talked about before, sports become a metaphor for life or you can say sports is life and life is sports.

At that age, when I’m sixteen, I had to make a decision. I had stopped playing football. I played in freshman year as a quarterback for the high school team. I was putting it all-in on golf. That’s where there was a shift for me of being all in and commitment. One of the hardest conversations I ever had was telling my dad I’m quitting football. He was a football coach. I was a quarterback for the sophomore team for our high school team. He loved that. I had to tell him I’m going to play golf. He goes, “What? Are you kidding me?” That was hard for me now to move on. I put even more pressure on myself that I had to be a great golfer to show him that that was the right decision.

UAC 167 | Mind Game Of Golf

Mind Game Of Golf: It’s easier to coach because you are not being self-aware of yourself. You’re trying to make the other person self-aware by asking proper questions.


If I look at these different tools like books, audio programs, and this is before podcasts, it’s I was trying to find answers. Deep down, I was confused because I thought it would be easier. I thought being a high-level golfer would be easier because other sports came to me. I wasn’t going to be a world-class football player, don’t get me wrong. I felt I was athletic enough to get through those stages and feel like I was doing it. Golf was a completely different animal. It is extremely challenging. It slapped me in the face pretty quickly of how challenging it was.

I’m so curious what it was that led you to dwindle down that wide range of sports to only focus on golf and even at a later stage in childhood development. Most of the time, it’s being decided before you’re even ten by us or by our parents, especially now. What was it about golf that drew you in and said, “This is it for me?”

There are a few things. There was this idea of the simplicity of it, a little white ball into the hole. At the start, I had a fantasy that this was easy. Once it wasn’t, that challenge became the driver. It’s like, “Why isn’t this easy? I thought I was a good athlete. This is supposed to be a sport. This is not making sense to me.” I got obsessed with the love of the game. I wanted to be great. I loved every part of it. I got my first job when I was sixteen at a golf shop. I loved being around golf. I loved watching it on TV. I love following the PGA Tour. The other part though is the autonomy of it.

I did play some tennis, but the other sports all relied on the team, on coaching and on other stuff. For whatever reason, there was a freedom in golf of I had to own my results. If I played well, I could say I did this, but then there’s the other side of the coin where it doesn’t go so well and you want to throw the clubs into the lake. I also had to be able to say that was me also. Those were my results. I can’t blame it on a teammate. I can’t blame it on my dad. As challenging as that was, deep down what was a driver for me was this sport pushed me as a person because I told my dad, “I want to play golf because it’s about me. It’s not about my team.” Once I said that he’s like, “Okay.” It’s all on now because my dad could call me out on it. You said you want to be this. You’re not doing the work.

That’s where that obsession with golf probably from the age of 16 to 25 has kept pushing me and pushing me and sometimes in some negative ways. I did not deal with poor results very well. I went to counseling when I was a seventeen-year-old because I couldn’t deal with some of the poor performance. It did have some negative impact on my relationships with my dad and stuff. Golf meant a lot to me. There are many layers to why I got obsessed with it. Most of it was very positive but it exposed and made me vulnerable in some other areas too.

I relate so much with what you’re saying. Honestly, the reason why I got into the game was almost identical in the sense that as a kid, it’s very appealing to be able to take full ownership for the results because you’re like, “I don’t have to worry about other teammates. I get to do it all and if I’m good enough, I’m going to win.” It’s the child-like ignorance that we have in naiveté about it. You get a little older, that means for both the failures and the successes and there’s way more of the failures than these successes. This isn’t as good of a deal as I once thought it was.

The challenge then drives you. It’s so enticing that you do have full ownership of that. You do have a goal that is worth achieving, but so lofty that you have to stretch yourself and never stop stretching yourself for it. That pursuit is addicting in many ways. I relate deeply with that. What was it like for you as you got through into college? I know that you mentioned with your first year not making the team and then progressing through college, and then ended up competing professionally for a bit, and then now staying in the game and in the sport. What was that journey like and how would you describe those different seasons for you?

At the start of golf because it was the fifth sport I was playing, it was something to do in the summer when I was 12, 13, 14. It was a nice outlet to spend some time with friends, but as it became that sport when I turned sixteen and this is my sport, I talk to people a lot about relationships with your sports or in this case golf. It started off in such a positive way and I loved it. Once I made this like, “This is what I’m going to do,” it started to become more and more like a job instead of a passion and a love. As I went through college, I did earn a spot on the team the following year. I had a very average Division I college career. I had some pluses and some spots. I never even qualified for the travel team.

Going back to that one shot I hit into the water, it did spark this idea of improvement on the mental side. I always go back to that shot as being the fork in the road that led me down this road that I love so much, which is about performance, mindset, and mental side. As my game is progressing and I’m becoming a better player, and then I turned professional, there’s also a reality check that goes with it because golf is an individual sport. I got tired of telling myself the story, “Rick, it will get better next year. Those guys have all those sponsors and they have this and that.” I found myself telling a lot of stories that were distracting me from the true thing, which was I wasn’t good enough.

[bctt tweet=”Sports teach us that there is always a very apparent cause and effect on things. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]

I could either do something about it and work harder, work smarter, do those things necessary or I may need to find something else to do. That was probably the next key area on 23-ish, 24. I tried a couple of mini-tour years. This goes back to the commitment question you asked me before. I honestly was not committed to be a professional golfer. I wasn’t willing to put the work in. I wasn’t willing to put the travel in. I wasn’t willing to do the things that were going to be necessary. I also had a limiting belief that I can’t be a professional golfer and have a family. Family was a high value of mine.

Now, I’m already projecting myself as even if I was successful, I can’t have this other thing that I want. That’s what a lot of the stuff about reality of the commitment. I wasn’t committed to taking this role on. To be honest with you, I wasn’t talented enough to only do it 80%. There was no chance. I always tell people, 100% I could have got to the level of what now is the Korn Ferry Tour. I could have got there with the full commitment.

One of the things that came from that story that’s beautiful, and I relate a lot to that, is similar to me in the first year. The biggest thing that I struggled with was having a plan, not plan B but plan A.5. It was like, “This doesn’t work out.” That whole little “If this doesn’t work out” leaves room for not a total commitment. That hurt my performance and playing as well. I think most people struggle with it and that’s true in any field. You could be getting a new position that you don’t feel qualified for and there’s this imposter syndrome that we all face. That produces this lack of commitment a lot of times.

What I love about the story that you shared and then your process in that is another word that your friends had mentioned about you, which is aware and this idea of self-awareness. You’ve already talked about it briefly, but the self-awareness you had to be able to see that you weren’t fully committed at such a young age is unusual and super helpful. With self-awareness being such an important piece of our development in lives and even in the story you shared, how has it played a role in your life and how do we develop self-awareness? How do we grow in self-awareness? A lot of times we talk about it, but we don’t always know maybe what the steps or process it takes to do it.

A fundamental question of personal development is self-awareness. It’s challenging. As a coach, it’s easier to coach because you are not being self-aware of yourself. You’re trying to make the other person self-aware by asking proper questions. Questions is where it starts. For me at an early age, it was very much about positive effect. It’s that, “Here are the results. I’m not happy with the results. What happened?” At the start, believe me, the self-awareness is not very good. It’s making excuses. It’s their fault. The coach made a mistake here. You get to a certain point where you start seeing the same results after results and you finally have to look in the mirror, and that is very uncomfortable. I believe for whatever reason that at an early age, I had a little conversation with myself in the mirror and at least said, “Today, I’m going to do a little something about it.”

My life completely changed or anything like that, but a little bit about, “You can at least show up and do your practice today. Let’s just do that.” When I started to see that if I was honest with myself, that I finally started to see some improvement, I started associating with that a little bit more. That tie in the cause and effect like I said, “Here’s a result. I’m the cause for this, for both good and bad, but I better take the bad now too. What can I learn?” Sports taught me that there was always a very apparent cause and effect. In golf, the ball goes where the club tells us. There’s a very cause and effect. For whatever reason, I tapped into that mindset first, but that doesn’t mean I was always honest with myself.

The second part of awareness is to truly understand this is what is up to me. We all have biases already, but through a lot of my reading and whatever other people are thinking and their ideas, I’ve always been a very curious person. If I am curious because I want to help my own self, great. As I become a coach of others, asking these questions, getting this information from many people that I agree with, and some that I don’t agree with. Different perspectives have been very important for me in my growth. I know you started with self-awareness, but adding perspectives has helped me look at things in different ways.

The two things is one, perspective like you said, and the second is taking time to understand the cause and effect and what led to those. If we never take time of pausing to understand, none of that awareness will come. That pausing is often the hardest first step because we’re so focused on going and doing and getting ready for the next that we don’t pause and then consider and sit with what is and what has happened to learn from it. That’s a powerful story and you’re right. It’s a lot easier to have someone like a coach to help us be a mirror for us to see more clearly, but we can also do that for ourselves when we take the time to do it. Learning from different perspectives amplifies it. I feel like it’s a whole other level beyond that. In transitioning from golf playing and competing to helping coach others, what was that like for you? As a competitor, you want to win and having this not work out how you thought, now coming alongside others to help make them better, was that hard to make that transition for you?

It wasn’t because I was more aligned with my values of helping people and seeing their eyes light up when they hit a good golf shot. I don’t think it was one of those like, “I could have, would have, should have been this pro.” I dealt with that pretty quickly after I said, “No, this is not going to happen.” I threw back to commitment. I threw myself fully into being the best coach possible. Getting the joy of seeing somebody hit a great shot or getting their personal low score or smile on their face, it was the reward for me as a coach. That was a fairly easy transition. I liked being around people who were also passionate about the same thing I’m passionate about.

UAC 167 | Mind Game Of Golf

Mind Game Of Golf: As a mental game coach, the most challenging thing is to make it tangible, to make it measurable.


Those lessons could have been with a strict beginner who were so fired up about being there. Those were more fulfilling for me than the person who signed for twenty years that came to the lesson with a bad attitude and didn’t care like, “This is going to be a long one.” It didn’t matter the quality of the player. It was more about the energy they brought to the game because I loved it so much. I loved sharing that passion with them. That’s what I’ve been so blessed with and so fortunate is that I get to talk golf and coach golf to people who are also obsessed with this.

It’s a sweet space to be in. I love how you transitioned well on that because a lot of times that transition doesn’t go well for most people. This intermediate period where there’s a lot of either depression or lethargy or this wanting for more. To hear you make that transition so well is encouraging because I know it’s hard for all of us in that time. With your work first on the swing and now on the mindset and combining those through your experience, you’ve had a lot of certifications and programs that you’ve gone through.

You are a Certified Master Trainer of NLP, Mental Game Certified Professional, Mind Factor Certified, Certified Professional for the Habit Factor, Athlete Assessments, DISC profile, a Bulletproof Coach, Certified Optimize Coach, the list of things that you’ve invested in yourself and in your ability to coach and come alongside others. What have you seen from that? Even pursuing your Doctorate, all of those take a lot of time and money and effort. Have you seen that to be worth the time, effort and money? How has that made you a more complete coach now?

I’ll be honest with everybody. One of my high values is curiosity and learning anyways. I’d love to learn. Though a lot of those certifications have nothing to do with golf, but they have to do with learning about life, performance, and how I can be better. That’s always a driver going into it. Here’s the other part that is tricky. I also have to take ownership that I bring something to the table with my own experiences and with my own outlook that can be valuable. My wife can definitely talk about this, but early on I would read all these books and do all these things. She was saying, “You don’t need to be Tony Robbins. You don’t need to be that person. Who you are can bring a lot to the table.”

I needed to still be who I was and get these different perspectives. What I’ve also found out when I was first teaching golf, I was what I would call a systems teacher, “You had to put the club in this position, etc.,” because that structure, that system made it safe for me as the coach. I learned pretty quickly that wasn’t the best way. There are a lot of individual physical body types. There are a lot of different learning styles. There are a lot of all these different types of things. I needed to be open that there are a lot of different ways to do it. Thus, I should open my own mind to some of these possibilities. It’s like you start learning more and more, and the more you learn, you realize the more you don’t know. That’s the path that I’m always on. I’ve never got to the point saying, “All is taken care of. I know everything about the mental side of the golf.”

I’ve been doing a ton of stuff with a flow research lately going, “If I wouldn’t have known this years ago, I would have completely changed my coaching.” I didn’t know that. I’m evolving as a coach and I’m getting better and better. I’m huge into learning. The application of the learning is a different discussion because I used to read a lot of books but not apply it. Now, I am able to filter it through and say, “Not only does it apply to me but, could this tool be useful for my coaching clients? Could this be a different perspective that I could throw into a coaching call?” That’s how I utilize it now. I don’t think there’s one system per se that is the best. I’m trying to create my own way of presenting it having these different tools. It still comes down to the energy and the communication that we bring to it that I want to be authentic with and connect with.

That’s such a cool journey and process to go through. It’s true for all of us in any career or endeavor. Usually, it’s applying those universal systems or principles and then we start learning more of the individual and then the nuance and how it applies differently. It is a dance and the beautiful thing is when we start embracing the dance versus trying to avoid the dance. One of the interesting things I heard is you had experimented with something called the Focus Band. This is an illustration of one of the different tools or experiences you’ve run. What was that process like for you?

To give you some context with this, as a mental game coach, the most challenging thing is to make it tangible, to make it measurable. When I’m coaching somebody, they can see a difference and there’s something they can take away. When I hired a sport psychologist when I was a professional golfer, that relationship was more about just be positive, just do positive thinking. That didn’t resonate with me because I didn’t think that was tangible enough. We fast forward and especially in the technology that we have nowadays, we can measure brain waves. We can measure heart rate variability. We can now measure physiological signs that can help us understand that a thought pattern could have a different reaction. How do we make mindset and mental game more tangible and something that we can train?

With technology, Focus Band being one of them, is if you can measure brainwave activity and tell me which side of the brain I’m in, the left side or right side. We can now measure when the brainwaves went down through a proper breathing pattern and a client can see that. They go, “That empowers them. I saw biofeedback that was different. I can change my thinking. I can change how I feel by this breathing pattern.” Whether it was Focus Band or other tools that I’ve used, that’s the reason why.

[bctt tweet=”Golf is a very vulnerable sport. It exposes a lot of things quickly.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

We’re only at the cusp of what’s going to be coming out with VR and all these other different things. We can start to understand and how to measure and train the mental game. That’s what I’m very excited about. Technology has changed. I’ve been very open to using technology, especially with my younger clients. A lot of my younger golfers, they’re born and raised with this. This is nothing new to them. They go, “I’ll put on that little thing on my forehead and get my brainwave activity. It’s a cool app. I can see that.” It’s not much of a leap of faith for them. With my older adults, it is but that’s a different story.

I’m sure you see a lot of fascinating differences in the generations. If we had more time or another conversation, maybe we’ll dive into that. I want to talk about this changing of seasons for you. There has been a new season that you’ve stepped in with one of your golfers. I am sure if people are familiar with your name and especially in 2020, they’ve become a lot more familiar with you and your work. What is the season with Collin been like? Maybe for people who don’t know, give them a little context of what 2020 has held.

I like how you’re posing things like seasons. When I first became a golf instructor and joined the PGA of America many years ago, that first season of being a beginner instructor, there’s a lot to learn and there are a lot of ups and downs and bumps along the way. I was trying to improve myself in my profession. I was fortunate enough to meet Collin Morikawa when he was eight years old. His father and him came up to me on a driving range in Glendale, California and asked me if I would be his instructor. There’s certainly a lot of stories within those years. He was like any other student I would want to work with. I poured myself into it. He had a great work ethic. He had a great attitude and there were no expectations. He’s just a kid who loved golf who was playing well.

As that relationship grew, and you could see his talent level and you could see his work ethic, his wonderful attitude and his mindset, in my head, I’m going, “There’s something special about him.” I felt I cultivated something that was already within him. I was his swing coach. I was his mental coach. I still am, but that has now come to fruition. There are many more exciting things on the horizon, but for what he’s done when he turned professional and he’s won three times on tour. He’s won the PGA Championship in 2020. That brings a lot of attention to him as he deserves.

People say, “Who is his coach?” They find out more about me. The season of him winning and what that’s brought to me is opportunities. It’s brought some validation to my coaching. I’ve been fortunate that some people are asking like yourself or being on podcasts where we get to not talk about golf swing mechanics. We get to talk about developing junior golfers. We get to talk about developing people. We get to celebrate greatness, which he has shown that.

I’m using this as a springboard for my next season, which is to now help more and more people understand that golf can be a vehicle for personal development. The stuff that I do with flow training is that Collin’s success has helped validate and brought more people to contact me. I am extremely grateful for that opportunity. Do I know exactly what’s going to happen in the next few years? No, but I have some intention of where I want to utilize this moving forward. I will continue to help junior athletes, continue to help Corporate America to be able to perform at our best when it matters most. That’s where my mission is.

It strikes me that there’s this idea from the Bible even of anointing and appointing. In the Bible, there are stories of God’s anointing someone to be king, but then doesn’t appoint them until fifteen years later like King David, for example. What your story shares is this being faithful in the journey along the way and adding elements in the process to where, when there is something that exceptionally breaks out with one of your students, you’re in a place where this is going to be great to see what comes from it. You’re going to bring more good and more help to many others, then maybe you would have won if this happened 15, 20 years ago.

I’ve told some of my friends in the business that if this would have happened fifteen years ago, I don’t know how I would have handled it. I had a bigger ego back then and I would have taken on it as something that I did. I didn’t do this. Collin Morikawa did this. He worked his butt off and had a great attitude. He sacrificed a lot to achieve his goals. I was part of a team that helped him cultivate that, certainly, but it wasn’t me. He entrusted me and that’s something I’m extremely grateful for, and we create a very good team environment. He has a wonderful caddy. He’s got a wonderful girlfriend. Fifteen years ago, I would have taken a lot more credit than I deserve. Let’s put it that way.

That’s some beautiful humility there, Rick. I appreciate that. This is something we’ve danced around, but not directly addressed. What would you say golf teaches us about life? How does the game of golf make us better humans?

UAC 167 | Mind Game Of Golf

Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One

There are many levels to it. I’m going to start with the most basic for me. The results that you get in golf are a direct relationship to you and your own behavior because there is no relying on anybody else. We have to deal with adversity all the time in golf and being able to have that right in our faces. I hit a ball in the trees, now I have to deal with getting out of the trees, which for some people might look at as a negative, but some golfers look at it as a challenge. They look at it as I get to create a shot. I can’t wait to hit the shot. Talking about perspective, it’s helped me reframe situations on the golf course. How I’m seeing this is vital.

Golf, it’s a basic thing. It’s a cause and effect relationship. I hit that ball. It was me, not somebody else. I have to take responsibility for that. That’s what something that helps a lot of people when they use the game in a healthy way. It certainly teaches us skills about focusing and about dealing with fear, “I don’t want to hit it in that water.” I worked with many clients that are worried about what other people think. “Is somebody else going to think about my golf swing and how it looks? I’ve got to play well because I want their approval,” and that’s life also.

I get somebody that goes, “Why did I make it such a big deal playing with that person when they didn’t care what I was doing?” It accelerates some of the things that you and I have talked about in life. Golf is a very vulnerable sport. I believe it exposes a lot of things quickly. It exposed a lot of my temper and frustration as a kid, a lot of my own uneasiness and stuff. The vulnerability, the results are straight in your face and there’s a lot going on there. I’ve always said golf is the ultimate mind game because it’s right there in front of your face all the time.

Three one-offs and then we are done, Rick. What question do you ask yourself the most?

What first popped in my head is how do I have to show up in this next event? Whether it’s this show, how do I want to show up for this? I do a lot of identity type questions. That would be my answer to that.

If you could study one person for an entire year, who would it be and why?

I’m torn here on there are some more typical answers that would come like a certain athlete or something like that, but I’m going to give you two people. We’ve already mentioned their names. Dr. Joe Dispenza has been a big influence on me of somebody who had to go through tragedy in his own life to find a new way, overcome that, go against the norm of what’s accepted and what’s known. He seems so genuine. He seems like he wants to care and love. I’ll use him. That’s somebody who I would love to get to know more and study. I love his mission and what he does.

Last question, and this is something we ask every guest that comes on. If you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what would you say and why? This is a text message they’d receive daily in the morning as a reminder from you.

“What’s the best version of yourself right now?” Every 9:00 in the morning, that’s the reminder I get on my own calendar. Why I do it at 9:00 AM is because I’ve already done my meditation at 5:30. I’ve already had some intentionality to my morning, but sometimes life gets thrown with curveballs in that morning time. I have three children. I’ve got a family. That 9:00 AM reminder for me is to reset me. For those out there, it’s about intentionality and what’s the best version of yourself right there. That’s my text.

[bctt tweet=”Golf is the ultimate mind game because it’s right there in front of your face all the time.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

That rings true with what the show is about and what this community is about as well. Thank you, Rick. Thanks again for the time. This has been a blast. It was everything that I had expected and would be more. Where can people find out more about you, your work, your programs and the future offerings that are coming up?

Thank you so much for having me. I’ve enjoyed these questions and this dialogue. That makes me feel in the flow when I can talk about these things with somebody. Thank you for that connection. I don’t do a ton of stuff on social media but my website is my full name, and on social media every now and then, on Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn, it’s Rick Sessinghaus. I will talk about things that are going on, whether it’s some of the stuff that I’m working with PGA Tour or maybe some upcoming interviews or articles that I’m doing. That’s the best way to find me.

Rick, thanks again. This has been awesome. I can’t wait to see all that’s ahead for you and your work.

Thank you so much, Thane. I appreciate it.

For all of you reading, we hope you have an up and coming week because we are out.

Following up with one last thing to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from, whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes, some pondering or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the very next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released on the first Sunday of the month. This is a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.

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About Rick Sessinghaus

UAC 167 | Mind Game Of GolfCorporate coach, mindset principles expert, and former professional golfer Rick Sessinghaus has long been intrigued by the fact that physical skills were rarely the determining factor in athletic success. He has studied the mental and emotional skills that make or break a performance and quickly realized the lack of their application in the corporate arena. Today he passionately speaks and consults around the country, helping professionals and businesses identify their needs so he can help them better PERFORM FOR SUCCESS.

Rick is America’s coach and expert on mindset principles that make or break performance both on the course and in the business world. With his PERFORM systems, PERFORMers are evaluated on their behavior under stress, as well as their mental and technical skills to uncover the best path for improvement and success. Rick is an expert on the crucial performance factors that PERFORMers need to reach their goals. As a sought after speaker, trainer, and consultant to companies looking to improve key skills of motivation, focus, confidence, and execution, Rick’s PERFORM system for mastering the mental game has provided companies with an innovative and unique business training format.

Rick is also an Instructional Editor for Golf Tips Magazine and has been featured on Fox Sports Network as a mental game contributor. Rick’s book, Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game, has been highlighted in national golf magazines and used by leading golf instructors across the country as the “best resource to improve your mental game.”

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UAC 166 | Political Issues


With the presidential elections fast approaching, the political issues that polarize the American people are once more at the core of many conversations. In this divisive atmosphere, it becomes all the more important for us to shift the conversation into how we can work our way around these polarizing issues and achieve unity. Why is diversity of thought important? Why is empathy critical? How do we get over our tendency to label and classify people according to their stances in specific issues? In this episode, Thane Marcus Ringler and his wife, Evan Ryan Ringler take a moment to sit down for a couch conversation to tackle this sensitive topic.

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”<_On_Politics_And_Our_Current_Cultural_Moment.mp3″ title=”166: Couch Conversations with Evan Ryan Ringler: On Politics And Our Current Cultural Moment”]

Couch Conversations with Evan Ryan Ringler: On Politics And Our Current Cultural Moment

This is a show about learning how to live a good life. We believe that takes living with intention in the tension because life has many tensions and daily, we get the chance to live in the middle of those. The best way to do that in our opinion is by infusing intentionality into all that we do, the reason why behind what we do. Ultimately, we are in this process of becoming as up and comers and hopefully, we’re in that process our whole lives as lifelong learners. Thank you for being a part of this community, this movement and being a fellow up and comer alongside in that journey.

A few housekeeping reminders, if you haven’t yet, there’s an easy way to support our show and that’s by leaving us a rating or review on iTunes or Apple Podcast or wherever you listen to it. Those are the main places. We’re at 100 ratings and reviews, which is a sweet milestone but I’d love to get to 200. I know that there’s enough of you to do so. If you could be kind and take a minute or two and help us in that way, I’d be grateful eternally for that.

The second way is financially. If you are going to support our show financially, you can go to where you can make monthly donations to help us cover expenses. This thing does not happen for free. It does cost money. To move from an expense to at least a net positive, we need your help. Patreon is a great place to do that. Finally, the easiest way to help us out is by sharing this episode or one that you enjoyed with someone in your community, sending it in a text and maybe mentioning a conversation. You can even tag us on the socials, @UpAndComersShow. We’d love to spread the good word and hear from you as well. If you want to reach out, you can always send us an email at I’m excited about this conversation. It is going to be another couch conversation with my beautiful, amazing and stunning wife. Let’s get into it.

We are sitting here on the couch in our usual spot. What’s going on, Ev?

Thanks for having me.

It’s my honor and privilege. We’re sipping on some steam, which is the neighborhood espresso bar. We got a little Americano here. What are you drinking?

Spicy chai oat milk. I need to look into how much caffeine is in here. I don’t drink a lot.

[bctt tweet=”Inaction doesn’t lead to more unity.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

It’s a black tea. I know that. Black tea is one of the lower amounts of caffeine. Green tea has more caffeine from what I’ve heard.

I don’t feel the jittery after.

The fall season is upon us. It’s been getting a little cooler here in Denver, which has been fun. The leaves are starting to turn. I’ve missed fall. I haven’t had a good fall in a while. Living in California, you don’t get the four seasons. You just get one with some slight changes in temperature, but I missed the fall colors, the changing and the brisk air. It’s something special about it.

It’s my favorite. I think maybe coming from Kansas so that was why. Kansas has some beautiful falls.

What is it about the fall season that fills you with glee?

I liked the smells. Some of my sweetest memories with my friends, I feel like we’re in the fall like grabbing coffee before high school or football games. Anticipating holidays and time together, also the crispness of the air and all the cliché things.

There are great memories. Even growing up, I remember back in the day driving on fall evenings and playing music with the windows open. The atmosphere and the air is so fresh and nice. You hit the nail on the head with the holidays coming up and all the cool memories. It is the anticipation of that, which is sweet. With fall and with 2020, we are approaching very quickly one of the most loaded, divided and tense elections we’ve ever experienced in our lifetime. With that approaching, we both thought that this couch conversation could be on politics. It’s this side versus that side. It’s us versus them.

UAC 166 | Political Issues

Political Issues: If we all think the same, it would take away the depth and beauty of our own experiences.


I want to have a disclaimer of, I don’t know that much and also, I can speak from my experience and what I do now.

What we want to lead with too is similar to what George Towers said in his interview was that, “I may be wrong on this. Give me permission to be wrong.” Over the last couple of years, I’ve changed my mind. That’s part of growth. I know that my mind will change and I will do things differently in the years ahead, in different ways, in big ways or small ways. I don’t know but I can guarantee you that my perspectives will shift and change the older I grow or the different seasons I’m in or the more experiences I have and that’s a good thing.

It’s a part of being a healthy human, of growing. We want to make that caveat disclaimer and to say that we’re having a couch conversation. Our goal is to try and provide some helpful perspectives to help us all think through this better. It’s important to always say the goal and it is how we can be more unified and see each other more as human beings. It means the two things I always love saying. You’re creating the image of God, divine worth and value that no one can take away no matter what you look like, where you live and what you do.

The second is being centered. We’re all fallen. No one’s perfect. We all mess up. We all make mistakes and because of that reality, we can see every single human being the same as us. It gives us the ability though it’s hard and daily, it’s a battle. The goal of this conversation is to better see each other as humans and to hopefully have some inkling of more unity. We’re going to go through where we are, what we’ve seen and our thoughts on what’s hurtful and what’s helpful. Now, where we are. I think it’s heightened more and more that this is unprecedented times for our lives.

I feel that tension is thick everywhere. I look at and hear conversations around race. To broadly stroke it, it feels like you’re either too racist or you’re not anti-racist enough. It’s an either/or. There’s no gray. I see a lot of people, myself included disengaging because it’s like, “If I engage with them, I might be shamed for not knowing enough. I’m not engaging it in the right way. You should watch this, you should read this.” I feel that things are tense. It’s a lot of either/or thinking. If you’re for this, you’re against me.

It ranges from if you’re against wearing a mask for COVID all the way to the presidential candidates with racism sprinkled in there. I feel there’s a lot of things that have come up in COVID that are important things to address and to consider. I see a lot of people disengaging because it is overwhelming especially when there’s not an environment that is safe for you to engage or be curious or try to learn. That makes sense to me why people are choosing not to engage because why would you if you’re going to get your hand slapped or what do you know? That’s not inviting.

Personally, I know that when I am unsure about something, like when I don’t know the right answer, action or thing to do, I always freeze. This could be anything. If someone texts me and I don’t know what to respond to them, I will often not get back to them if I don’t have an answer for them. It then ends like a week later and then I texted back that I’m feeling bad because I didn’t respond for a week. It just shows that within us, when we’re unsure, we often freeze. We often don’t do anything. It’s not always a bad thing but that habit doesn’t lead to more unity. It’s good to pause and consider, but by being frozen in action, then we aren’t being a part of a solution or a part of unity.

[bctt tweet=”Unity is not uniformity. Unity is only possible through difference.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Along with that is where we are, the biggest factors affecting us right now are the mass dissemination of news, media and individual voices through the news outlets or the internet and social media. From that, we all feel more pressure than ever before to have an opinion where we don’t need to. Not everyone needs to have an opinion on everything. We also get to reinforce our way of thinking by filling it with more voices of the same. As we watched in The Social Dilemma, social media companies and tech companies are good at feeding us what we want to see.

In that documentary, they highlight how individuals can ask themselves, “How can they see all of that and think that way?” The reality is they’re not seeing everything you’re seeing on your feed because your feed is much catered to your clicks, likes and interests. I feel like the end goal is people are wanting people to think like them. Why do people need to think like you? God made us all different for beautiful reasons. If we all think the same, then we’re robots. We’re not an individual and that would take away the depth and beauty of our own experiences. It’s unrealistic to think that everyone’s going to have the same opinions and think the same way as me when they’ve had different life experiences and they come from different backgrounds.

Maybe it would be helpful to start there and I also want to mention where we are is in part of where we’ve come from. Thane and I are both from Kansas, a known conservative state. We come from conservative nuclear families. We have people in our non-nuclear families, but in our family, all the same, that I would say are almost on the other. We mirror that same intensity of conservatism. I feel we have been exposed and have experienced people we love on both sides of the spectrum.

To underscore what you said before that on this idea of unity and what you’re saying is unity is not uniformity. Diversity of thought is helpful, not hurtful. Having different perspectives and views is a stronger place to be than everyone thinking the same. That’s group think, that’s hive mentality and tribalism. You can fill in the blank. The point is we should be much more for unity than uniformity. Unity is only possible for difference, which our pastor, Rob, talked about just to underscore what you said there. Us sharing our backgrounds is hopefully you can understand where we’re coming from. As we move into what we’ve seen, we are talking from our experiences like you said.

From our experiences within our families, the people we love and communities, we’ve experienced a wide range of conversations, opinions and views as I’m sure most of you reading to this have. It’s because it’s filtered or funneled or fed into all aspects of our lives at this point partly due to media, the internet and technology. I feel like in Denver, it’s a neutral place, meaning that there’s almost an equal amount on both sides. In our daily lives and maybe you can speak with several more I found honestly, within our community here in Denver, we have a large population on both sides.

Colorado on the outskirts of Denver is conservative and then Denver is “more liberal.” We have engaged in conversations with people who are on both sides. I do feel the majority of our community is 50/50 which has made for beautiful conversation and growth. Something that I’ve enjoyed about living in Denver is I feel people are open to hearing. Why is it? Why do you think that way and why do you lean that way? Help me understand and that question is beautiful when it comes from a true place of, “I do want to understand why you think that way.” Instead of, “You shouldn’t think that way.” I want to ask you the same thing about what you’ve seen in our families and our community around politics.

What I’ve seen is I feel a lot of the time, there’s no hearing going on. It’s a lot of as soon as someone says something that you don’t agree with, you classify them as “the other.” You then wait for them to stop talking so you can regurgitate something you heard from your new source. That is not attractive to me. It’s not enticing to me. I don’t want to engage with those conversations. I feel when I have tried to engage in those environments, it’s a lot of, “What do you know? Your age is just naive? You don’t want to engage in politics.” I’m sitting there like, “I’m almost 30. When do I get some credibility for I am a thinking individual and I do read and research?”

UAC 166 | Political Issues

Political Issues: We get so caught up on specific issues that we forget that what’s more important than the issue itself is providing a support system for the people involved.


I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about how there’s this whole movement around young Republicans, that is much in support of the climate ordeal and how can we help, serve and protect our planet. At the same time, I know people who would classify themselves as progressive or liberal and they would tell me that all Republicans hate the world. It’s become to me this demonizing of the other of, “If you think that, then you’re this.” It’s like, “I’m not. I’ll be vulnerable and speak of an issue that is a tough issue of abortion.” It’s hard on any way you slice it. I love Jesus. I believe Jesus is who He says He is and I would consider myself a Jesus follower. With that, I think people are going to get abortions whether it’s legal or not. Would that mean I would get an abortion? I hope to never get an abortion. I don’t think you can truly speak to that unless you’re there. Humans are capable of anything.

To underscore that real quick, did Peter hope to deny Jesus three times? No. Did he do it? Yes. Do we still love Peter? Yes. Can we say that one action does not define who you are? Whether you have or haven’t had an abortion, it doesn’t make you a different person. You’re still a human being and we are not defined and judged by a single action ever. That’s true of some of our favorite characters in the Bible like Peter and Paul. If you look at these two guys and you see what they did in their lives, and yet we love and renown them. It’s no different.

That is the framework I’m operating out of. Peter’s like, “No, Lord. I would never do that. Are you kidding me? I’m you’re a most faithful disciple.” Jesus’s like, “Three times.” When Peter does that, Jesus looks at him, sees him and he still loves him. Could you even imagine being Peter like, “What did I do?” To bring it back, human beings are capable of anything. I’ve done things in my past that I’m not proud of and you have too. We all have. The topic of abortion, I don’t think it’s that simple as, “If you love Jesus, you’re anti-abortion.” I’m like, “People are going to get it regardless.” Would it make sense to have it be in a safe place where their body is still protected? There are more complex issues. I still don’t know about that complex issue. That’s some of the things I’ve thought of is I am pro-life and I don’t know.

We get caught up on the specific issue that we miss the point of what’s more important than the issue itself is providing a support system for the humans involved. Meaning, how can we better come alongside humans versus cast aside those humans? It’s the same with the prison system. I was listening to a podcast with the guy whose philanthropy working hard on prison reform and the recidivism rate of people in the corrections system or in prison is 70% to 80%. That’s a bigger problem than anything else. Why are we not providing services to help come alongside and do the dirty, heavy hard work of walking through a process with people to bring about healing and change versus it’s this issue or that issue?

It’s never as simple as this or that especially when it comes to humans. We’re way more complex or complicated than that. To your point of what you’re saying is, “Just because you think this, doesn’t make you that.” You can fill in the blank for a ton of things on that. Our current culture and climate are divided and we start taking these stances of saying, “If you’re for climate change and preventing that, you are automatically classified as a liberal. If you are anti-abortion, you’re automatically classified as a conservative. If you’re this, you’re automatically this.” That is intellectually dishonest.

To make it a little more personal, I feel on the track of demonizing the other, if you voted for Donald Trump, you are a Trump supporter and I don’t agree with that. We know and love people who voted for Trump, they voted for Trump because there were certain issues in policies that they agreed with that are conservative-leaning. It doesn’t mean that they support the individual. Generally speaking, we can all agree that Trump’s not that moral and he says a ton of ugly things, but so do a ton of people in that realm and so do we. We’re all human beings.

In an honest conversation, I think most people would agree that it’s hard to respect a president like Trump. He’s not a respectable guy. There’re many things that we would wish that our leader of our country would do differently. He’s broken some of those norms that I don’t think many if any people that are somewhat in the middle would agree with or standby. Alongside that, most of the presidents of our country have parts of their character that we wouldn’t agree with or standby either. We hold people to a place that they can’t reside in.

[bctt tweet=”Empathy is an antidote to righteousness.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

The thing that makes me super upset in this sphere is how hateful we get to the people we love and how we define people by the way that they vote. It’s within our own families and our friendships. There so much more to us as we’ve been saying. I don’t want our president, whoever that is come November 4th to cause hate or division within relationships between parents and their kids, between friends, between siblings. That’s the most hurtful thing I’ve seen out of all of this is the hate and animosity we can hold towards people we love the most.

Moving to what we think is hurtful and what we think is helpful, you mentioned one of the most hurtful things is to breed more hatred and animosity especially towards people we love. It dehumanizes us. It classifies it as us and them as we’re the humans and they are the non-humans. As within our family and people that we love, it’s of the worst kind. We’re all prone to that. You and I are prone to that. Every single human is. Daily, we get the chance to work on that. For the rest of 2020, we are each going to be having opportunities daily to work on this.

In thinking about how can you be helpful in that, one of the simplest ways is to instead of respond, inquire, ask and seek to understand because if all we do is respond and react with our opinions, views and perspectives, we’re entrenching and that causes them to entrench, whoever them is. The goal isn’t entrenchment. The goal is understanding and empathy. The way you get there is by asking questions genuinely. Not asking questions to put yourself up in a position to win the argument, which is often what happens. You start framing this as like, “What question can I ask so that they see the superiority of my position?”

That’s me all the time. I feel like as a one, maybe not in political circles, but in everyday things, one’s like to be right. I’m like, “Maybe you should try to look at it this way, which is my way, which is correct.” Thane and I read this book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. Something I wanted to share from that is a quote by Jonathan. He says, “If you want to change someone’s mind on a moral or political matter, you’ll need to see things from that person’s angle as well as your own. If you do truly see it, the other person’s way deeply and intuitively, you might even find your own mind opening and response. Empathy is an antidote to righteousness. Although it’s difficult to empathize across a moral divide.”

I would recommend that book to anyone as well. He does a great job of trying to do a fair job of evaluating the landscape between conservative and liberal and breaking down a lot of the factors. Also, a lot of the irrationality on both sides that we all have as humans. What he’s talking about in the moral divide, he breaks it down into six. It’s under the moral foundation theory that says there are six psychological systems that comprise the universal foundation of the world, many moral matrices. There are moral compasses that we have in there and there are six different systems that we operate on.

What he points out is that the liberal side of the equation operates on mainly three of those. They tend to rest most strongly on this care and harm, liberty and oppression, and then the other one is, fairness versus cheating. Those are the three on the liberal side. The conservative side has six. It has those three alongside loyalty and betrayal, authority and subversion, and sanctity and degradation. That’s a positive and negative way to describe each of those. His point is simply to share that each side has a different emphasis. Whereas the conservative side is a little bit more wide-reaching and divided among six. Whereas the liberal side is more focused and specific divided among three. That’s part of the theory behind that. That’s part of the moral divide in that quote you mentioned that he’s talking about and where the focus and emphasis is. If you want to go back to it is like we have to begin understanding where the emphasis is and why.

Something that’s helpful and would be helpful in the political sphere is understanding first of all that the person you’re engaging within this conversation does not share your experience nor do they share your upbringing. It might be helpful to consider or be curious about, “Is this person a product of divorce? What does this person value? They value their family. They value these things. I can see why they would lend themselves to this way of thinking.” It’s much more than how could they possibly think that way. As we mentioned in the social dilemma and it’s true in real life, these people don’t see what you see. They’ve experienced way different things than you have. I think to be empathetic means to consider the whole of the being.

UAC 166 | Political Issues

Political Issues: It can be helpful to hold postures of curiosity and creates spaces where everyone is welcome.


Another quote that Haidt said is, “If you want to open your mind, open your hearts first.” That’s what we’re speaking to is that we needed to be operating from our hearts, not our minds, and trying to get these rational arguments that aren’t that rational if we’re honest with ourselves. Stop making this an intellectual debate, but a heartfelt human conversation. Let’s not have a debate. We don’t need another debate. There’ll be plenty of debates. There have been already millions of debates. The other quote that I love and it’s a little longer is he says, “Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side, winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.” It’s binding and blinding us. Us versus them, our team, your team and then we shut off and don’t listen.

I listened to a TED Talk of Brittany Packnett and she was sharing that curiosity invites people to be in control of their own learning. I think about like in debates, the end goal is to get the other to think like you even though I feel that never happens. This idea of being curious and why do they think that way, are they from another country and now they live here and maybe that’s influenced the way they think. It’s hard when you’re not in the practice of considering things like that. I’ve been there. I understand the cycle of how in the world they could ever think that. The other thing I wanted to share that something that’s been helpful is I started volunteering at a homeless shelter in Denver. It was a rigorous process to go through the application process. I’m grateful to be involved and with that, it’s also a big commitment of once a week for three months. I’ll be spending two and a half hours a week there.

With that, my eyes were like huge the whole time. My mind was expanding. My heart bleeds with and for the marginalized of our society. My eyes were open to homelessness moving to Denver. It’s much bigger than Kansas City and you coming from LA knows that it had an even bigger scale. I’ve been processing like, “How can I go to sleep in this super amazing place in a super comfy bed while in our back alley, there’s someone sleeping by the dumpster?” I don’t think that’s what God wants and I know that’s not what God wants. It’s such a complex issue. There’s a lot of, “What choices did they make to get there?” That was a lot of my framework growing up is while you make choices, then you get this outcome. Thane says this quote all the time, “I was born on third base and I thought I hit a triple.”

The idea that we are born into different classes and environments and some of us are set up more for success. One of my friends who also works in shelters and she was sharing that it’s much more of a feat for someone to climb out of homelessness than it is for us to maintain our already cush status. Now, I’m volunteering at the shelter and we checked in a member and they have to do an intake form to have some basic information of their gender, where they sleep at night and their monthly income. This person said they sleep in a porta-potty at night. I look at that and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” You can think and construe these narratives of, “They probably do sleep in porta-potties.”

When you’re looking at that person and you can touch them, they’re that close to you, it becomes real. The average person experiencing homelessness in Denver is making less than $500 a month. That puts a different spin on the narrative. I’m grateful for that experience. I feel it’s been eye-opening to me. I feel it’s helped me be curious and the majority of the staff at this shelter, Resource Center is openly progressive or liberal. I understand that they’re serving a marginalized part of the population where most policies that are helpful to that population are on the democratic side.

At the same time, I’m like, “If there’s only Democrats, liberals or progressive people working in these spaces, how do we expect conservatives to understand the reality of what’s going on?” What could be helpful is holding postures of curiosity or creating spaces where anyone is welcome. There are Republicans for climate change as there are Democrats that are anti-abortion. It’s too complex to pigeonhole and narrow down like that. I know we share a love for humanity on both sides of the political dilemma. My encouragement would be to get involved, be curious, and have experiences that help you do so.

To add another illustration to that, we often talk about what we don’t know. Being in a place like LA for a while, there are many people in LA or other city centers that have never ever seen or experienced the middle of America and what living in a small town in the middle of America is like. They have no idea. It’s easy to be quick to jump to conclusions about the people there and their experiences and their views and view them as ignorant or a small mind or whatever you want to classify that as their description. They have zero clues.

[bctt tweet=”If you really want to open your mind, open your heart first.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Growing up in a place like that and seeing the people and loving the people and seeing their hearts and the beauty of living in those places and being from those places it hurts. It’s sad to see that classification that’s ignorant. Likewise being from a small town, a lot of times in a smaller town or in the middle of the country, you look at the city centers and say, “Those places are unattached to reality. They’re ungrounded. They have no foundation. They’re lost in the clouds.”

It happens on both sides culturally based on where you live and where you grew up and what you know. That’s not to say that no one’s immune to that. We all fall prey to that and your illustration points that out too. If we don’t know or we haven’t experienced and for us to make judgments or conclusions on that, is not helpful. It’s naive and it’s ignorant. We can’t expect to think the same way as someone that’s lived in a completely different place their whole lives.

Like you said two of us being born on third base, the story you shared with me of a daughter who was in the shelter and she called her mom remembering that her mom had brought her to that same shelter. To say that you and I could have been born to someone who was homeless, but we weren’t. It wasn’t our choice. It wasn’t anything that we did. We had zero part of that. For us to claim that we’re above or better than or different than because of our own actions is intellectually dishonest.

With that example of a nineteen-year-old woman who has two kids of her own and she’s experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty because there are varying degrees within the shelter. I feel like it was helpful for me to see that because a lot of homelessness is cyclical just as cultures are cyclical. I went to school in the South. That is a completely different culture and people are thinking that way because there’s been generation after generation of people that think that way. I know this isn’t about racism. This is an example of the majority of people in the South go to church. They would consider themselves Jesus followers and my experience, I encountered and experienced a lot of church-going people from the South who also used the N-word and had this us and them narrative. It’s not to cast blame.

I think it’s helpful to say they have come from generations of this way of thinking. By me saying, “That’s wrong,” might not be helpful. Maybe asking questions could be helpful. Where we come from is much more complex than narrowing it down to, “They’re homeless because they made bad decisions.” It’s like, “They might be homeless because their mom or grandma was homeless and they don’t know anything different.” As my friend was sharing that it is way harder to pull yourself out of a homeless cycle than for us to maintain this status quo of, “I’m going to school.”

To sum up, what you’re saying in that is we are products of our environment in our culture. There’s a great book that I’m about through, Uncle Tom’s Cabin that’s written in the late 1800s. It centers around our nation’s history with racism, especially in the South. It’s fascinating because it breaks your heart, first of all. It does a good job of depicting and portraying what that experience was like. It shows that good people fell into that and we would have to if we were in that era and in that place.

I’m not above that and most people aren’t. I don’t know if many people that are. That’s to say that we are products of our culture for better or worse. There are plenty of things now that in a couple of 100 years we would look back on and be like, “We got it wrong.” There are two questions that God asks, “Who are you and where are you going?” I sat with those two questions and I think those questions are helpful for us to understand that each one of us is part of a bigger story.

UAC 166 | Political Issues

Political Issues: We don’t know what we haven’t experienced. For us to make judgments on that is naïve and ignorant.


Each one of us is part of the collective humanity. Each individual serves as an important piece of the whole. Abraham, this is the amazing father of faith got passive. He stopped actively trusting in God’s word and he said, “You want me to take your maid as my wife. Sure, I’ll have another wife.” He knew that God had already promised that he was going to have a child through Sarah and so he got passive which is one of a man’s core downfall is passivity.

He takes Hagar and the wife has a baby and then his wife is bitter, hateful and spiteful towards Hagar. You have this idea of, “I’ll give it to Abraham.” He then went through with it and he had a baby and then it’s like, “This sucks. I can’t have a baby now. She does and I hate her.” Hagar runs away and God meets her and speaks to her. It’s one of the few times in the Bible that God explicitly speaks directly and it’s a woman which in that time wasn’t viewed as on the same plane as men. He asked her, “Where are you from and where are you going?”

He’s asking her about her identity. He’s asking her about her life experience or story. Knowing that we’re a part of a greater story and knowing that we’re from a place and that we’ve been shaped by that and we’re going somewhere. We have a purpose in our life. Those are the things that bring worth and value versus degrade and dehumanize. Maybe we got better at asking those two questions in those conversations, “Where are you from? Where are you going? What’s your story? What do you hope for the future? How different would the landscape be?”

What we say when we don’t lead with things like that, when we lead with, “I want to find out where this person is politically and I want to know how they think on these issues.” To me, what that says to the other person is, “I don’t care about who you are. I’m more interested in how you’re going to vote, why you think that. If it’s aligned with me, then cool.” That is a practical, helpful tool of, “Who are you? Why do you think the way you think? Where do you want to go? Where are you going currently?” It’s beautiful.

I will end with what you mentioned there. There’s another quote that I’ve found that struck and highlights as well it’s, “The difference between the desire to be right and the desire to have been right.” These two authors say the desire to be right and the desire to have been right are two desires and the sooner we separate them, the better off we are. The desire to be right is the thirst for truth. On all counts, both practical and theoretical, there’s nothing but good to be said for it. The desire to have been right on the other hand is pride that goeth with before a fall.

It stands in the way of our seeing we were wrong and thus blocks the progress of our knowledge. In those conversations, if our desire is to have been right about something, then it’s going to be fruitless and it’s going to be unhelpful. It’s going to be hurtful. If our desire is to pursue what’s right, which we don’t fully know by accepting that we have limited views, limited perspectives, then we can come together as a team, not separate teams.

One last encouragement is just sit with, “What am I doing that’s helpful and what am I doing that’s hurtful?” Are my current habits helpful? Is watching two-plus hours of my news source helpful? Is having constant news alerts on my phone helpful? Is engaging that person in that way helpful? What could be helpful though? Maybe I’ll have him over for dinner and not engage politics. Try to ask questions about them. I would encourage you to be curious about your own habits and what could be helpful in serving yourself and other people.

I’m going to sit with that too because it’s a good word. I want that to be a constant reflection for us. It’s amazing advice and words of encouragement. For everyone reading, this is our best stab at it as we see it now. Take it as that. That’s all we can do is see it from our point of view now, and be open to change. To more unity, that’s the goal is to have better communication and better relationships.

To stay curious, to considering the other and to holding postures of empathy.

[bctt tweet=”The sooner we can separate the desire to be right from the desire to have been right, the better off we would be.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Thanks for chatting. This has been awesome.

Thanks for having me. I love you.

I love you and we hope you all have an up and coming week because we are out.

This is Thane here following up with one last thing to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering, or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released on the first Sunday of the month. This is a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.

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UAC 165 | LoveBomb


Anyone who has used the LoveBomb app has experienced how it’s making it fun, quick, and easy to stay connected with the people they care about. The product of Mark Shapiro’s genius, this digital expression of kindness helps make you better art keeping in touch with others. Mark has sent over 10,000 personalized appreciation videos to those he cares about and gave a TEDx talk on human connection in the digital age. On today’s show, Thane Marcus Ringler brings him on to talk about the app, being a relational person, the power of acknowledgment and possibility, pivoting careers from corporate to the entrepreneurship world, starting a tech company, and so much more. Stay tuned for this engaging, thoughtful, and fun conversation.

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”165: Mark Shapiro: The Power Of Authenticity: Journeying From Corporate America To Tech Startup, An Entrepreneur’s Mission To Drop LoveBombs Of Possibility”]

Mark Shapiro: The Power Of Authenticity: Journeying From Corporate America To Tech Startup, An Entrepreneur’s Mission To Drop LoveBombs Of Possibility

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that takes living with intention in the tension. It’s a catchy mantra to say that we are trying to infuse intentionality into all that we do, a reason why behind what we’re doing. To do that, we believe we do it better in community with one another, striving alongside each other in this process of becoming that hopefully will entail our entire lives. I’m grateful that you joined us and I can’t wait to get to the interview as I know it will bless you. Before we get there, a few ways that you could bless me and the show. The ways that you can bless us are simple. One, leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. That would be an awesome way to support our show.

We’re over 100 and we’re so grateful, but I know there are plenty of you out there that can get us over 200. The second easiest way is by sharing this episode or one that you enjoyed with a friend, sending it by text, tagging us on social media, or sharing it with all of your community is an awesome way to get the word out and further our community and our message. Finally, if you want to support us financially, you can always do so at where if you search the Up and Comers Show, you’ll pull up our page and you can make monthly donations there. That helps us pay for the expenses associated with producing the show. It doesn’t happen by chance and it definitely isn’t free. That would be awesome to have your support. If you want to reach out about partnerships, you can always find us We always love hearing from you.

This is an interview with Mark Shapiro. Former Showtime Networks Executive, Mark Shapiro is the CEO of Digital Humanity, Inc., and the Founder of the LoveBomb app. The first-ever social wellness tool for busy people who want to stay in better touch with those they care about. From sending over 10,000 appreciation videos, giving the premier TEDx Talk on human connection in the digital age and supporting Fortune 500 companies with impact strategy and leadership training, Mark is at the forefront of social innovation. He has been featured on CBS, the School of Greatness Podcasts, Thrive Global, Educate Inspire Change, and his content has been seen by millions across the globe.

Mark is an intentional, vulnerable and honest guy. I loved getting to sit down virtually with him and we talked about a lot of things, including the long path to success, being a relational person ever since he was young. We talk about pivoting careers from corporate to the entrepreneurship world. We talk about the power of acknowledgement, something that often isn’t talked about, social media and how it shapes us, the power of possibility, starting a tech company, being a father and so much more. It was an engaging, thoughtful, fun conversation. I know that you’re going to be blessed and encouraged by Mark’s spirit, heart and the work that he’s doing. Definitely check out the LoveBomb app. Without further ado, please enjoy this interview with Mark Shapiro.

Mark Shapiro, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Thane. I’m honored to be considered an up and comer.

Everyone’s reactions are a little different to that. I had one guy almost slightly offended saying, “I think I’m beyond,” but most people are appreciative of being an up and comer. Honestly, I think it’s a goal that I want to have my entire life because we are always learning and growing. If we’re not, we’re dying and decaying in a lot of ways. When you hear the word up and comer, what does that mean to you?

What it means to me is someone who is on their path, on their mission and has got momentum. To me, that’s a big piece of it. When you look at an up and comer, what comes to mind is there’s no such thing as an overnight sensation. Oftentimes, we are hustling, working, putting in our 10,000 hours, and that’s happening over sometimes years or even decades before maybe we’ll get “discovered” or hit it big times. Up and comer to me is an honor. The opposite of that is down and outer and no one wants to be a down and outer. There’s no limit on being an up and comer unless you’re Tom Cruise or something like that. I have no problem with it.

What you said is poignant that there’s no such thing as an overnight sensation. When did that become something you knew versus an idea? Because we have to learn that through experience a lot of times.

That opens up a whole can of worms because for me, I’ve always been a social person and I’ve always had a lot of relationships, whether it’s close friends, acquaintances or people from my past. Since I’ve always been social and felt like I’ve had good relationships, when I made the leap from Corporate America years ago and entered into the coaching and podcasting world, I thought that I was going to have instant success and be an overnight sensation. I learned quickly and then continuing to learn over time that it is about the repetition, honing your craft, doing your best and doing whatever you can to put yourself out there to create new opportunities.

Open new doors and trust that you are doing your best, following your heart and listening to the feedback of the universe that ultimately, it’ll put you in a position to experience whatever you’re supposed to experience. I know for me, I definitely thought that I had this big idea for this authenticity theme podcast. I’m going to have all of my most influential friends on it. They’ve got big audiences, they’re going to share it out. It’s going to grow fast. I’m going to get sponsors. I’m going to have coaching clients. I’m going to get paid speaking gigs. I’m going to write a book and all these things. From a financial perspective, it wasn’t even close to that in reality.

That is the reality that pretty much all of us experience, even if you hear otherwise. We’re going to dive into all of this. One of the things we can start with is this transition from Corporate America to deciding to go out on your own. You were at Showtime for ten years and had a well built out career path there, and making a leap from a position like that to, “I’m going to start my own thing.” It is a massive leap, regardless of how much security it’s built up. It’s always challenging. It’s always hard and it comes with a lot of obstacles internally and externally. Can you give us a breakdown of what that process was like? How long it was before this idea of, “I want to do my own thing and I’m going to take action on it?” What are the things that helped you overcome a lot of those inner obstacles that we face?

I started my career at Showtime as an intern. That’s where I cut my teeth in the business and marketing world. I loved television when I first got into it and saw myself having a full career in entertainment, starting out in the business side of things. My vision was to grow up the company ultimately, manage it and be responsible for so much revenue in the company that I could have some influence or say on the programming that goes on the air, or migrate over to the programming side of the company. That was my vision for a number of years. I excelled in that team environment and enjoyed working for progressive brand making socially relevant content until I wasn’t.

I was there for a total of twelve years, but after about ten years, things were changing in my life a little bit. I got divorced and I went back to the drawing board about, “What do I want to do with my life?” I’ve been working at this corporate job for ten years and I’m finding myself still having that same level of ambition, that same drive, that same vision to ultimately climb up the corporate ladder as far as I could to have some influence on programming. I was in Corporate America and I felt like I was very much on somebody else’s timeline. Somebody else is like, “What does that even mean? The corporate culture timeline?” I felt like I kept hitting my head on the ceiling.

I was always the type of person that would strive to exceed expectations and do excellent work always. Always in my quarterly and annual reviews, I ask my managers and superiors what do they need to see for me to get promoted and to make it to the next level? Whatever they would layout, I would knock it out. It got to the point where I felt like I was getting lip service from them. At the same time, I was doing a lot of self-development work and realizing the leadership style in Corporate America, I’m not going to say it’s specific to Showtime. I have no hate or no qualms to Showtime. It was a great place to grow my career, but it wasn’t the type of empowering environment where I felt like any amazing idea could come from anywhere in the company.

[bctt tweet=”Follow your heart, tap into your creativity, and start making things happen.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

It was very much a top-down type of approach versus my belief that there could be an intern that could have the next multimillion-dollar idea for a company. Ultimately, I was treading my tires wondering what I would do next but at the same time, not having the confidence or knowing what I would do if I were to leave Showtime. At that time, I thought maybe I’d get a job at HBO or on other TV network because I had the experience and I had the reputation, but that felt lateral. It didn’t feel exciting. At the same time, doing all this self-development work made me rethink my values and think a lot bigger in terms of, “If I could do anything with my life, what would I want to do?” Every time I did a self-development workshop, I grew so much. I take action and I ended up doing a six-month facilitation and leadership program.

The final exam was to create and facilitate your own transformational workshop. It had to be two and a half hours long. It needed to have at least 25 people and then that was it. Those were the only rules. I was terrified of that. I didn’t want to do it. That wasn’t why I signed up for this course. I just wanted to do the course because there were some people who I looked up to and was inspired by who were in the course like Lewis Howes, Preston Smiles, Nick Hankins, Jenna Phillips, a whole bunch of badass people who continue to be making a huge impact in the world. If I’m leveling up with them, I know I’m going to grow all that. I got to the end of the course and I had to facilitate this workshop. I decided to do it on authenticity. I created this workshop, 50 people showed up. I only needed 25 and people were making changes in their lives as a result of the exercises that I was putting them through.

At that point, a light bulb went off. I’m like, “I’ve created something. I’ve got something here.” It gave me this insight as to, “I can do something outside of the corporate world because I followed my heart and tapped into my creativity and started making things happen.” This whole new building or world appeared and that’s when I’m like, “Podcast, book, I’m going to be successful.” I set a date in the calendar for four months out. I said to myself, “I’m going to launch my podcast on April 1, 2015 and I’m going to go for it.” I put some money down on a podcast producer to hold myself accountable and I didn’t do much.

About a month and a half, two months before April 1st, 2015, I’m like, “I’m going for it. I’m doing it.” When I was releasing the podcast, I was still planning to stay at Showtime, but Jenna Phillips asked me the question after we recorded the third episode of the podcast. She’s like, “What are you doing at Showtime?” I’m like, “Interesting.” I’m launching a podcast about being authentic. I don’t even watch TV anymore. I realized this promotion that I was going for, which was to run Showtime’s online business because at that time you could only get Showtime through DirecTV, Comcast or Time Warner. You couldn’t get it over the internet. I wanted to run that business, but I wanted it for the title and the experience. I wasn’t excited to have that role. I decided, “This is as good of a time as ever. If I’m going to be authentic and embody my mission, then I got to go for it.” That’s the long-winded answer why I left Showtime.

There’s so much in that that’s worthy of deeper dive, but I want to focus in on the self-development process that began a couple of years before. What were those steps you took? That can entail a lot of things. How did you make that first decision of, “I’m going to take this course or be part of this program or go engage this person?” Who was that or what was that resource like?

The entry point to that question and anyone who’s reading can probably resonate. Have you ever wondered if there’s something more out there? I always thought there’s got to be something out there that can help open things up in our worlds and help accelerate our goals, dreams and empower us. I didn’t know that there were workshops, what those workshops were, or anything beyond that. I had like a seedling of thought, “There’s got to be something out there. There’s got to be something more.” About 4 or 5 months after I got divorced, a friend of mine, we were sitting and watching football on a Sunday.

He was saying that he did this crazy workshop. Some guy from the Army was telling the story about how he shot someone or some kind of crazy story. He was raving about this experience and he was like, “If you guys are open to it, you got to check it out. It’s a weekend. It’s the best $500 I’ve ever spent.” I was like, “That sounds cool,” but he didn’t sell it. The next time I saw him, he brought it up again and he set up a dinner appointment with me and he signed me up on the spot but I was open. I mentioned at the time that my life was in a major transition. It was the perfect time to be presented with the questions about taking a look at your life and changing things up a little bit. I had a compassionate friend who stood for me. He wasn’t making it about him. He wasn’t making it about the program. It was about helping me be who I want it to be.

That’s powerful and encouraging to have someone come alongside you in that. It’s a good encouragement for all of us reading whoever you are to be that friend to others. For you, it was a major upheaval, a big transition in your life. A lot of change sparked a lot more of this openness to more change. A lot of times, we don’t have these major transitions or periods of change or things that cause us to shake up our own box. For people that aren’t in that moment but maybe have that thought or that inkling of thought that there may be something more, how do you encourage those people to take that step when they haven’t had the change already in their life? This is forcing themselves to shake their box. How do you encourage people in that?

Oftentimes, when we have some level of comfort, why would you want to be uncomfortable? No one wants to be uncomfortable. That’s why oftentimes, it takes getting fired from a job, having some health scare, losing someone that’s important to you, a breakup or something like that to feel enough pain where you’re like, “I got to make a change in my life right now.” The reality is if you’ve been suffering for a long-time, if you believe that there’s something that’s better out there for you, you’re already feeling uncomfortable. Maybe it’s not a 10 out of 10, but you’re still feeling the pain on a day-to-day basis. Maybe it’s impacting you the way you wake up in the morning or throughout the day.

It’s giving ourselves permission to know that every moment is a new moment to choose who we want to be. Some of these life shifts, it takes a powerful decision of going on a new path, maybe setting some ground rules, taking some action and saying, “I’m not going to behave in this way. I’m not going to allow myself to do what I’ve been doing.” The nice thing is we have the keys to that at any point at any time. That’s empowering. At the same time, it’s not necessarily easy. It’s usually a lot more challenging to do on our own without some structure, coach, accountability or something like that.

When you think about your own life. If you rewind the clock quite a bit to those earlier years, what was it as a kid that was the vision for what you wanted to do with your life or who you wanted to be?

Every single person would answer that question in a different way. For me, what’s always driven me is to have quality relationships, to be a respected leader and successful person in my community. I’m very much relationship driven, which is probably not a surprise to you, Thane. How that looked is I’ve always wanted to be a family man, have a successful business and leave a positive impact in the world and a legacy so my family and my kids can have the financial means to go on vacations, to have a beautiful home and lifestyle. That was pretty much the vision. It was a little bit more granular versus super specific. How I thought that would probably look as a kid is becoming some entertainment mogul. That’s why I was interested in Showtime. I was always interested in pop culture, but it was never that much more specific than that.

One of the stories I heard in some background calls was about you around five years old and something that you were excited in a friend’s birthday party. Do you remember this story and would you be able to share?

It was something along the lines of, I had a friend who was short at five and my mom or somebody asked me, “It’s Andy’s birthday. What do you wish for him?” I said something along the lines of like, “I wish that he grows. That’s God’s gift to you.” Is that what my mom said?

That is what she said. She said that she loves that you were able to think and voice that even at such a young age. That speaks to a lot of what you shared even at your young age, your heart for those quality relationships and the compassion and care that you had. Where did that come from? Was that something your mom or your dad instilled? Was that exemplified by maybe your older brother? What was that pain point start for you in that sense?

UAC 165 | LoveBomb


I’ve always been thoughtful and I’ve always cared about other people and wanted other people to have good things that happened to them in their lives. It probably stems from being acknowledged as a kid or feeling part of something that I always like to make other people feel acknowledged or part of something. Specifically, I’m having trouble thinking of any particular memories off the bat. That’s probably what it is. What made me feel good as a young kid is how I then treated others.

I want to touch on this for a minute because this is something that several people mentioned about you. One of your strengths or superpowers is your ability to see people and see the good in people, but not only that, that you acknowledge people. We don’t think about this idea of acknowledgement much. We don’t talk about it much. It’s weird even to do it sometimes, but there’s so much power in it and you mentioned it as being a part of something. Seeing yourself as a part of something bigger than yourself is a lot of what goes into it. How would you further define or describe the power of acknowledgement and what that practically looks like within our daily lives?

I got goosebumps with you asking me that question because it is what I stand for. It’s my life’s mission with the LoveBomb app. One of my favorite mentors, her name is Margo Majdi, she’s no longer with us. She wrote a book called The Art Of Acknowledgement. The first two chapters of the book to me is where the gold is in this book, but I’m going to summarize it. What Margo says is that every single person has some element of a self-worth issue, “Do I matter? Where’s my place in the world?” If you’ve ever felt some imposter syndrome or self-doubt, you know exactly where I’m going and what I’m illustrating here. We all feel that disconnect at times from the greater whole. We feel that disconnect and have that self-doubt.

The medicine for that is to be acknowledged and to be reminded of our lights, who we are, the great value that we add to other people’s lives, and the great gift that we are. That can be unpacked a little bit further. I use an example, one of the greatest relationships building books of all times is How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He says, “What people want more than anything else is to feel important.” If we feel important or if we’re viewed as important by others, it’s probably going to translate to some business success, a greater amount of friends, greater opportunities and invites types of things. If we’re important to other people, we’re probably going to live a “richer life.” How can we provide value to other people? That can be a tough question.

Do I have to give someone information? Do I have to lend someone a hand? How do I provide value? I find that it’s a very easy thing to do when we remember the importance of how people want to feel remembered, important or valued. Acknowledgement is an unbelievable freeway of doing them. Who doesn’t like a compliment? We can all remember times when someone has maybe pull this aside or stopped us. Maybe it was even a little intense and awkward. It’s like, “I want you to know that one time that you came over to me and said something like that, it changed the trajectory of my life. You are such a kind and caring person.” I’ve had that happen a number of times in my life. I’m sure we all had some experience with a friend who thanked us for always being there or shared some words with us. That lights up my soul. That’s something that’s available to all of us. Sometimes expressing ourselves we’re like, is it going to be a little bit weird? Is it the right time? It’s always worth it.

Every single person has an element of self-worth issues at play. When you were saying that, I remembered I played in a couple of day golf tournament. It used to be my former career. This was the first individual competition since playing professional years ago. I was a professional in small state open tournament. I was in the final group the last day, which was fun and exciting. I was up third place at the time. I was playing with the two leaders and I had a rough stretch in the middle. When I faltered a little bit and when I started getting behind a little bit more, I was out of it.

I wasn’t competing as much anymore with the two leaders. It was funny because part of the fueling of my frustration with my play and that also led to some other bad shots, internally, was this self-worth issue of, “I’m not a part of the cool kids anymore. I’m not in the lead. I’m not up with those guys.” Even within the group dynamics, you have that at play. Since I’m very familiar with the space, I’m aware of those things but it’s interesting to experience that in a weird thing like a golf round. How much more so do we experience that in actual everyday life. How much more devastating is it when that’s our consistent reality and we don’t have these voices of acknowledgement empowering us?

What happened on the golf course when that inner critic was starting to get louder?

It is a lot of preaching. Unfortunately, it took me a few holes to get back onto level field within myself and that’s partly rust and partly mental weakness to be honest. The thing that always held me back in my career was the mental side of things. It’s partly because we beat ourselves up. A great book on that is Timothy Gallwey’s The Inner Game Of Tennis. He talks about these two selves within yourself that are in competition. Your play benefits from a healthy communication from those two selves. One is the body and one is more of the emotion side is how he breaks it down. When the one is beating the other up, that’s going to hurt your performance in greater ways than any other element. If you’re interested in the mental side, I’d recommend that book.

In the round, I hung in there and I got it back on level playing field. I made a few birdies and was competing. I wasn’t with the leaders as much, but I was still hanging in there. I ended up finishing poorly. I bogey the last two holes. The last hole I three-putted from about 15 feet, which if you know golf is a bad play. That costs me a fourth place on my own. I ended up tying for fourth with about five people because I missed a 3-footer on the last hole. To be honest with you, that made me mad and furious. I was stuck in this fury at myself for that for probably 30 minutes. Even the next night, I woke up in the middle night and my mind was racing about that moment because of how mad I was still. It’s so hard to let these things go especially when we cause them ourselves. That was the story of the round.

I figured there would be some element to the story where it was like, “I had a tough time for a couple of holes. I gave myself a pep talk. I had a good shot and was able to build some momentum.” That’s usually what happens with all of us in life, but sometimes three holes become six holes, becomes a whole round. It becomes a whole season. It becomes a whole year. We get it when that inner critic gets loud. I figured what you’re going to say with some elements of self-acknowledgement, acknowledging yourself to allow that supportive, empowering voice to have the weight over that critical self-sabotaging voice that we all have.

I have that all the time. That’s why I want to read this book right away because I certainly could have a better balance between my self-loving voice and my inner critic. It could be the importance of you got to be able to self soothe. There’s not always going to be someone right there coaching you. At the same time, if you did have a coach on the course with you, you might have had a completely different trajectory if they were like, “Thane, you got this.” Maybe they remind you of a time you were in a similar situation and you rose to the occasion, and reminded you of how talented you are and how mentally strong you are. Acknowledgement can have a powerful impact.

You brought up a good point there about self-sabotage. That’s a large battle for most of us, if not all of us. I like to frame it as I talk about it in golf, there’s a practice and the performance mindset. They’re completely different. In the practice mindset when I’m practicing, I want to expect more out of myself that I’m capable of so that I can try to grow my talent and ability in the practice setting. You want to make drills that you may not be able to complete, but you want to try to.

In the performance mindset, I want to be kinder to myself. I want to show more grace to myself and I always get in trouble when I don’t. That’s the reality. I know golf is beautiful because it gives you immediate feedback of these things. It shows you the results of them immediately and the next shot. Showing yourself grace is important in life, not just in golf and not self-sabotaging. To have someone like a coach or caddy, that I didn’t have either in this tournament, those are helpful tools to get you back on the right track, and to be able to believe in what you have and who you are.

It’s a blessing for you that you’re super ambitious. You have a drive and you hold yourself to such a high standard. Naturally, you have the capability of delivering and creating superior results with that level of drive and high ambition. If you’re constantly holding yourself to that standard and you’re not letting yourself be a beginner or make mistakes, that’s when you can get into trouble.

[bctt tweet=”Making assumptions robs us of so much, and it keeps us from being present and taking action.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

I love the idea of the three core needs of every human. I heard this in a sermon once and I wrote a blog about it because I thought it was powerful. It’s being seen, being heard and being connected to something bigger than yourself. That acknowledgement accomplishes all three things in one tool. If we think about how simple and how powerful, there are still many things that get in the way. From being focused and being defined by others as good at this, even for you, what keeps you from acknowledging others, even now?

One of the big things that comes to me is I make a lot of assumptions and then it becomes like a chicken and the egg game. Let’s say there is somebody that I want to reach out to. I’m building my advisory board for the LoveBomb app. It’s in my best interest to have the most successful, impactful, powerful advisors for my app. People who have built other very successful tech products, people who have massive reaches, maybe someone who heads up the board of a kindness nonprofit, something like that. When I’m pitching potential investors, they’re like, “You have this incredible team.” You’re guaranteed to be successful because you’ve got this team behind you that’s already delivered results.

That’s the scenario. Then, there’s me being like, “Who do I want to have on my board? How am I going to pitch them? How am I going to enroll them? Do I call them up and invite them to be on the board? Do I have to nurture the relationship first? They’ve got a big launch right now. Maybe I should wait a week or two.” Oftentimes, I’ll get in this story about like, “Is it the right time? What’s the best thing to say?” That thought is too much energy. It’s exhausting that I will put it off and not take action. A good metaphor for this is we’ve all experienced this pandemic and we’re all disconnected from people who we maybe normally saw in person. Maybe we’re not seeing some of the level of acquaintances that we used to run into everywhere.

Maybe we’re feeling a little disconnected or a little bit lonelier apart from our communities or people we care about, but we might not be taking quite the action or the proactivity to reach out and be in touch with these people for whatever reason. Maybe, “I’m too busy with my work. I don’t have the energy. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to be a burden and get rejected.” These are common. I’m sure anyone reading would resonate with at least a handful of those things. That is the friction that gets in the way of creating a connection and creating more love in our lives, more opportunity, everything.

Making assumptions robs us of so much and it keeps us from being present and it keeps us from taking action. That is true. I know for me and everyone reading can relate to that. When it comes to you pursuing acknowledgement, one of the things that’s in your bio that I’ve read is that you made over 10,000 appreciation videos. This was one of the start of your journey. That also stemmed from another transition, change, season or a pivotal moment in your life with your dad passing. Can you take us back to that time and what that experience of your dad passing, and you deciding to embark on this new endeavor entailed?

My dad passed away years ago. He had a young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, something that ran in my family. I never got to meet my grandpa, my dad’s dad. My dad’s brother who was younger than him had passed away a few years earlier also due to young-onset Alzheimer’s. For everyone who’s had a loved one or has known someone who’s had Alzheimer’s, it’s an absolutely brutal disease. It’s totally debilitating. It robs you of all of your cognitive abilities. Sometimes people think, “It’s like you’re a little forgetful.” Ultimately, if you live with Alzheimer’s long enough, you will forget how to breathe. Your body will not able to breathe anymore. My dad was sick for about eighteen years and it was brutally challenging for my family.

I had documented a lot of his journey on social media in order to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s because there’s still no way to slow it down, no treatment, no cure. There are a lot of false articles that come out from pharmaceutical companies who want to get press. They will say, “There’s this new treatment.” There’s nothing at this point that is going to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease for someone drastically. When my dad finally passed, I made a Facebook post announcing his death and I got so much love. It was one of those things like social media definitely has a dark side as we’ve seen with the new documentary, The Social Dilemma.

There is some light to it as well. One of those things is being able to celebrate or honor a major life moment. When my dad passed away, I made this post and got over thousands of likes across all my social media platforms, but hundreds of personalized messages that were thoughtful. They showed care and compassion towards my situation. It was tough for me. I didn’t know what it was going to be like when my dad passed. I knew he was going to die but I didn’t know how I was going to feel. Those first few days were awkward. I wanted to feel connected. I was responding to these hundreds of messages that I got. I found it to be very challenging to respond via written out text messages.

I decided, “I want to get back to anyone who’s sent something thoughtful to me.” I started sending voice memos. I realized by pressing record and speaking from my heart for like ten seconds to maybe one minute that it was quicker than typing out a paragraph response. It was therapeutic for me because I got to express myself without judging myself if this good or bad. The other person got to hear me and got to experience me. They got to be there with me. It was such a cathartic, healing and beautifully connected experience that I’m like, “There’s something powerful in this type of self-expression.” I knew that I wanted more of that in my daily life. I was living in this space of possibility. Just because things are the way they are, doesn’t mean that they’re the way that they have to be.

Social media at that time was already a dark gloomy place. I’m like, “There’s got to be a better way to do it.” I was coming right off the heels of my maybe six trips to Burning Man. It was a very loving and caring place. There were a lot of hugs and acknowledgement that I came up with the idea to start sending appreciation videos to every single one of my Facebook friends on their birthdays, which was an ambitious move. To this date, I’ve sent over 10,000 appreciation videos. I do it every single day, no matter how close or how well I know someone that I’m friends with on social media or Facebook. It’s completely transformed my relationships. It’s completely transformed my life. It’s been the gift that’s kept on giving.

One of the things that drew me in reaching out to you is getting that video back from you. I was like, “This guy is putting into practice these ideas in simple ways that stands out because most of us don’t do that.” Most of us don’t take the time to acknowledge in a way that is accessible through the internet and social media but isn’t socially acceptable in the sense that people don’t do it. This is swimming upstream in big ways.

Let’s go there because it would be valuable for people. Thane, you originally reached out to me a few years ago about my podcast. I said, “Check back in with me in a little while.” You hit me up and I’m not doing the podcast. I remember when you had first reached out to me, I went to your website and I’m like, “He’s a golfer and a coach. He’s got a good story and a cool guy.” When you hit me up again, I could have easily sent you a response email but I’m like, “I think I could cultivate a little bit more connection.” It’d probably be quicker and easier for me to send you a quick video than to type out a paragraph. I sent you a little video message and here we are because of that. When you can see a human, they’re speaking to you, and you can hear their voice, it’s closer to a face-to-face experience than shooting someone words on an email.

It changes the game. It’s a whole another step when you’re in person, as we know with COVID and Zoom, it’s not the same as being in person. A video is way more than words. It’s powerful and we do have amazing tools to accomplish that, which is beautiful. Even doing this show and seeing the video of each other is more meaningful than hearing a voice. I want to know a little bit more on your thoughts on this thing called social media. There’s a great quote that I’ve said a couple of times and I think it paints it well. Eric Hoffer said, “Every great cause begins as a movement, turns into a business, and then degenerates into a rocket.” That is the epitome of social media in many ways. How are you thinking about social media and its impact? How have you seen it impact your own life?

Have you seen The Social Dilemma yet on Netflix? You got to check it out and I highly recommend checking out. It’s like a docudrama about the under dark belly of social media. It’s from the team behind the Center of Humane Technology. There’s this guy, Tristan Harris, who used to work at Google in their ethical technology group. He brought up to Google. He wrote this manifesto questioning, “What kind of ethical role do we have for people who utilize Google? As this tech leader, what kind of ethical responsibility do we have?” He realized that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and all these tech tools, that they didn’t have the same level of responsibility, guidelines and regulations that the telephone companies have in terms of sharing data and stuff.

It’s a fascinating documentary. You got to watch it to get more of it. It exposes how we are living in an attention economy. Attention is the most limited resource that we have because we can only focus on something at the moment. These tools are built to try to get our attention and to keep our attention so they can present us with ads that earn them money. That’s the foundation of a lot of these platforms out there, which brings up your point. It starts out with this great idea of we can keep in touch with our friends in this public forum and it can unite humanity in a way that’s never been possible before through technology. Then it’s got to be a business. Now, we’re manipulating and people are projecting their highlight reels on social media. It’s all about the ego, what’s going to make me look good, and fishing for likes.

UAC 165 | LoveBomb


Technology does have all these amazing capabilities as well. For example, a Kickstarter campaign or a GoFundMe when someone’s got a health issue and everyone comes together and rises to the occasion. It helps fund someone’s liver transplant. That is amazing. The amount of people that sometimes we hear from our birthdays, because Facebook lets us know whose birthday it is. The possibilities with that are endless. It begs the question, what are we utilizing these tools for? Are we using them to serve and to benefit our lives or are we a slave to them? Now more than ever, we need to be asking ourselves that question because otherwise, it’s too easy to be scrolling down our Instagram feeds, and spend 3 to 4 hours of our precious lives a day on Instagram. I’m not saying don’t use Instagram, but would you be getting the same benefits from Instagram if you used it for an hour? Which is still a lot of time, but that’s four times less than four hours a day.

Does it serve us or are we a slave to it? What a great question for reflection. That is something that daily and weekly we need you to sit with. They are tools that are built to get and control our attention, and attention is a very valuable resource. That’s a helpful word. As you said, it’s not all bad. It has amazing elements that we can be using for good. It takes so much discipline and intention that we collectively need to grow and bring in more to these spaces with. Seeing it as, “How can we redeem this space for good? Even if there are bad examples of it, how can we be a good example for other people to follow?”

It also has led to the collective division that we’re facing in our country more than ever before, because now we are almost internally required to make stances and positions known online, which what good did that ever accomplish? Who has ever changed their mind from a Facebook argument? I think zero people. You’re entrenched in your views and beliefs. You get more divided and we’re facing that. The solution is you, me and individuals taking ownership of our role in those spaces.

At the end of the day, it comes down to us individually and the responsibility that we take and how do we want to utilize this technology to amplify our lives? What’s most important to me? What do I want most? Maybe it’s something tied to your career. Maybe it’s tied to relationships or maybe it’s tied to some contribution. There are many tools that exist in the tech space that can help amplify those like building relationships on LinkedIn, whether that’s building social relationships on some of these platforms.

I want to get to what you’re doing. Did you ever see yourself being a tech startup founder? Was that ever in your peripherals or horizons?

It’s definitely not. I’ve got this app called LoveBomb that’s all about helping people build and sustain connection. I can work with that. That makes sense to me, but being this proponent of love, I never would have thought that, “Mark Shapiro is on this mission to spread love.” I would never have thought that I’ll have that kind of moniker

From what I’ve seen online and what I’ve read, you’ve had quite a few things since that pivot out of Showtime. This is the path that we go through. I know I share that too. I know that people reading who are in entrepreneurship, self-employment or going that route, a lot of times you think, “They did this one thing and it worked out,” but it’s always like this then this. How has that journey been to LoveBomb for you since Showtime?

My friend, Jen Gottlieb always brings up this Steve Jobs quote where it’s like, “You can’t connect the dots moving forward. You can only do it moving backwards.” That is always a challenge especially for any entrepreneur who is doing their best to have clarity at the moment but also be five steps ahead. When I launched the podcast, I thought all of these things were going to happen. The reality is that the podcast was growing not as fast as I hoped it would, but it was growing and it attracted some people into my life. I would say that after producing 250 episodes of a podcast, probably the most measurable impact of the podcast was creating relationships with the people I had on the show.

That’s not what I would have expected going in. I would have expected, “The audience would have grown so big and all these people would have been clients and all of these things.” There were some of those things, but the most valuable thing I got out of it was the relationships with the guests. When I launched the podcast, I started a coaching practice and that was a slow build. I’d say moderate success in terms of building a coaching practice despite generating good results for my clients until I launched a group coaching and accountability program called Winning Weeks. When I launched the Winning Weeks program, that instantly had some pizazz. I was able to enroll a number of friends in it and had 20 to 30 people at a time in this eight-week accelerator program where everyone was setting goals, you’re showing up weekly and supporting each other.

It was a cool and great program. At the same time, I burnt out from it. Helping 35 people at a time in a very hands-on program, it wasn’t like the type of thing where it was 35 people on a call and no individual touchpoints. I took on the responsibility of helping each of these people generate these extraordinary results in their lives. As a coach, you can lead the horse to water but you can’t make them drink. That took a little bit of a toll on me. As an entrepreneur, I wasn’t just doing the coaching, I was promoting and enrolling. I was wearing a lot of hats with it and it was exhausting. I ended up deciding that it was time to give that a break. I’ve done a bunch of speaking. Building a speaking business is something that I’m guessing if you’re reading, you thought about that from time to time, and I’m sure you have a very valuable message. It’s not necessarily the easiest business to break through, especially if you’re not already in New York Times bestseller.

It’s tough out there and it’s noisy. I know we’re led to this belief that the more followers we have, the more people’s eyes are on our content, the more likely we’re going to catch this big break. From what I’ve learned, it is about those one-on-one touchpoints, enrolling and connecting with people one person at a time. It’s not just putting up a post about your new coaching business and expecting you’re going to get a bunch of people to sign up. It’s about having conversations with individual people, showing them the possibility and then, inviting them to step in and to work with them.

A lot of things had some great success but ultimately, nothing was sustainable in a way that felt good for me. I’ve looked at that sometimes on one side. The inner critic would be like, “You haven’t found your gravy train, your true purpose or calling.” On the other side, I’m like, “You’ve impacted many people’s lives and maybe there’s a higher purpose for you.” It’s a complex thing. I’ve always believed in the power of possibility. I’ve always wanted to make a great impact on the world. Thane, I know that you’re a very disciplined person. I read that a lot on your work of how disciplined you are. Discipline is something that is vitally important to be successful at anything and to form any kind of new habits. I’m obsessed with accountability, authenticity and habit formation. These are things that would be valuable to people, but at the same time, we also avoid accountability like the plague sometimes.

It’s something that I’ve put my flag down in this like, “I’m going to be this accountability guy. I’m going to help people live more authentically. I’m going to help people accomplish their goals. I’m going to help people be more consistent in building extraordinary relationships through kindness and appreciation.” It’s still accountability and habit formation, which don’t come easy to people. It’s been an ongoing evolution for me as to what’s the best way to communicate this type of stuff? What’s the best way to connect and enroll people? I feel grateful to be where I’m at with the LoveBomb app and to have a fully functioning app that’s in beta mode, and to be bringing it to market. It’s exciting. With that said, there are no guarantees.

If you would self-describe yourself now, what is that tagline like? Who is Mark Shapiro when people ask? I’m guessing, it’s not just your LinkedIn profile bio. How do you answer that question of who Mark Shapiro is?

That’s a hard question for anybody to answer, to have to box yourself into anything. It makes sense from a work perspective, you want to be able to have that little catnip for someone leaning in and they’re like, “I want to hear more. You’re such an amazing pedigree. You’re successful. You’ve partnered with these celebrities.” For me, I strive to be someone that is relatable, real, encouraging, compassionate, loving, and kind. I’ll go with that for now. If you’re asking me in an hour, I’d probably say something different.

[bctt tweet=”Our attention is the most limited resource that we have; we can only focus on something at the moment.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

That’s honest and authentic, which I love. Where did the idea of LoveBomb come from and how long has this process been five weeks from launch?

After sending thousands of personalized video messages and getting the most unbelievable responses from people, it was transforming my relationships. It was beyond obvious that there was something there.

Were there any stories that were ridiculous or were they all pretty much encouraging or inspiring in that sense?

Out of 10,000-plus video messages, I’ve only gotten two hate messages back. I guarantee there are people who get messages from me and they’re like, “This is authentic.” They know that I’ve given a TEDx Talk on this and I called it a birthday experiment. They’re like, “I don’t want to be part of some experiment.” They don’t say anything to me. To me, it’s been a universally positive experience. The reality is I’m not asking for anything in these appreciation videos. I’m taking 10 to 20 seconds to say, “It’s your birthday. I hope you’re having a beautiful day. I’m chilling at my house in Venice and I wanted to send some good vibes your way on your birthday and for the year ahead. I hope all your birthday wishes come true this year.” I say it genuinely.

Who doesn’t want somebody else wishing them the best genuinely? I hope everyone reading, even a fraction of you are hoping that LoveBomb and make some positive impact in the world and you’re sending some good vibes my way, I will take as many people on my side as possible. That’s the ethos behind it. There have been some pretty profound experiences with it. For example, my four Facebook friends passed away in the past years. In each one of those instances, I got to connect with them through these birthday videos in a way that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for this birthday video thing. In 2 out of those 4 instances, people that passed sent me a video reply. I now have this evergreen forever video of them talking to me. Who’s got that? It keeps a flicker of them and our connection alive even though they’re gone.

We had the honor of having a girl on here, Lizzie Effinger. She was only a few years older than myself at the time and she ended up passing about a year later, but to have an hour and a half-long conversation with her that lived on was a moving emotional experience. To be able to listen to it again after she had passed was remarkable. It made me grateful for mediums of communication like this. I’m sure you felt the same way and that’s just super powerful.

I’m going to take this opportunity to share a quick story here. As I mentioned, my dad passed away from Alzheimer’s at a young age. My dad was a competitor. He was never one to admit to weakness. When he got Alzheimer’s, when his memory and his cognitive abilities were starting to slip, he wouldn’t talk about it openly. He was denying it. We never got to have in that last chapter of his life some of those beautiful conversations where he expressed his hopes and dreams for me or how he feels about me. I’m Jewish and I had a bar mitzvah when I was thirteen. My dad gave a speech at my bar mitzvah where he expressed how he saw me, what my strengths were, what his hopes were for me, and his advice for me.

I still have this video. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have any kind of video of anything like this that I could still watch. It’s still such a huge gift to me. The reason why I share this is now is the best time to let people know that you love them and why you love them because there are no guarantees in life. We’re seeing that more than ever in this pandemic. We don’t know sometimes the next time we’re going to see people if we’re in a different state than them. Who knows what could happen? Why not record something or at least if you don’t even record it, call them up and tell them so that they know. It’s an unbelievable keepsake. It’s great for a rainy day. I still watch the speech that my dad gave me when I was thirteen. All the examples are about baseball and ways. They’re not relevant, but the underlying themes are and the advice they gave me still is relevant. It is powerful to give people those acknowledgements and to say them now because you never know.

I cut you off before you were talking about the origin and how you were making these thousands of videos. When did this idea for LoveBomb come into the picture?

A lot of people would tell me that I inspired them in some way through the video is to be more expressive to the people in their lives. I get a bunch of different answers. Some people are like, “I’m going to give the birthday experiment a try.” They’ll tell me, “I sent a whole bunch, but maybe I didn’t send videos to everyone. I did it for a month but I’m not as good as you.” I got cool stories of how it inspired people in some way, shape or form. There were a number of people that asked me. They’re like, “I wish there was a way for me to tap into this magic but I’m not good at it.”

That led me to the drawing board of, “If I were to create some tool or write a book, what would that look like?” I thought, “I could write a book but a book’s not going to create more connection in your life. The only way to create more connections in your life is by being proactive and taking action.” I thought to myself, “An app is probably a better way to do it.” That opened up a million more questions as to how the app would work? Does the world need another app? Do all my friends have to be on the app in order to get any value from the app? All these kinds of things.

I decided that I was going to reverse engineer sending the birthday videos to everyone I know. I’m like, “What would be the opposite of that, that could meet anyone where they’re at to create more connection and to help them facilitate more kindness, appreciation, and acknowledgement in their lives? What’s the opposite of sending 10,000 personalized video messages?” I thought to myself, “What if we had an app that made it easy to nurture one relationship per day in whatever way feels authentic for you?” It doesn’t have to be a video message. It could be “I’m thinking of you” text. It could be sharing a nostalgic photo. It could be picking up the phone and calling someone. It could be anything or it could be a video as well.

That’s where I came up with this idea for LoveBomb. I came up with hundreds of names and LoveBomb was the one that I zeroed in on. Essentially, the way the app works is you first choose who you care about and who you want to keep in touch with. Once you build that list, which is a very powerful exercise because oftentimes when was the last time you took inventory over your relationships. It’s the opposite of social media where we’re connected to hundreds or thousands of people. We’re seeing these people, but are they the people we want showing up on our feed? Is that who we want to be getting our attention to?

I know for me, sometimes I would forget to call my grandparents who were the most important people in my life. LoveBomb also came from my own need of being like, “I’m casting such a wide net with my relationships. How do I nurture the relationships that are most important to me?” LoveBomb helps you build that list and choose the frequency that you want to interact with these people. It makes it easy to start conversations, and then you can build a daily connection streak and set goals. It gamifies it a little bit.

I love the simplicity, but also the power that comes from making something simple but actionable and fast. Even for myself, as you were talking, I’ve created a list of those people, but then there are often days where I have it on my calendar to reach out to this person and don’t do it. I ended up getting busier, the task seems more important and then I don’t follow through. To have more accountability, to gamify it or even to have a place where it is more accessible is such a great tool. It’s going to do a lot of good in bringing more action to those acknowledgements and those spreading of love and kindness.

UAC 165 | LoveBomb


I think you’re onto something there. With the timeline of it, building an app and starting a tech company is the trendy thing. If you’re a cool kid, you’re going to be a founder of one of those. Everyone’s like, “I’m competitive. I can get into that. Maybe, that’s what I need to do and I think of the next Uber.” Everything is not as it seems. What would surprise people about this process that you’ve learned from doing it and then how has the process been for you?

It is hard. It’s a lot of steps. One of the things you ask is, how long has it been? It’s been a couple of years since I first came up with the idea. There’s a dating portion of it. It’s not like a dating app but I was like, “Do I want to pursue this? What would it look like for four months or so? I’m going to do this, but how is it going to work? What’s it going to look like? Who do I know that could help me design it?” I got in bed with the wrong designer that costs me money and time. I found the right tech firm and all this stuff costs a lot of money.

I feel very fortunate that I’m at where I’m at with it, but it’s not easy. Everyone thinks they’re going to be an overnight sensation. Everyone thinks that they’re going to have the next Uber. It is hard to get anyone’s attention, let alone to get anyone to do anything. It’s a big undertaking. I know that when I first started, I was like, “I don’t know if I should share this idea with anyone. I think I’m onto something. If I tell somebody else this idea and maybe they’ll run with it.” At this point, I don’t even know if I even care to share my coding with a tech firm. I’m like, “You’re not going to take the time and effort to completely rebuild this thing from scratch.” That would take months and months of your time. Everyone’s got their own things going on. It’s fascinating. It’s a huge undertaking. To be honest with you, unless someone’s building the exact same thing as me, they’re not even a competitor.

It’s funny how we get ideas about something that we have no idea what entails. For people that do have an idea, do have this thought or have been mulling on it, if you could give them a rough estimate on average of time and money that it takes to get something off the ground in this space, what would that framework or guesstimate be from your experience?

In the tech space, I was talking to my friend, Michael Dubin from Dollar Shave Club. He was explaining to me like, “Anytime you have a big idea, be prepared to spend ten years on it at least.” I’m like, “I’m two years in.” He’s like, “You’re just getting started.” It’s a long time. The easy thing to do is to give up and move on. There is something to be said about going all out and listening to the feedback of the universe and trusted people that you care about, giving something your all and seeing what kind of traction you have. If it generates the traction, run with it. If your passion starts to wane, move on. I know for me, this is something that is been a desire that’s burned in my heart for two years.

If I didn’t go through with this, I would regret this for the rest of my life. I’d always wonder what if. If you’re reading and you have that level of desire, you got to go for it. The time is now, working, hustling and taking risks. There are things where I’m at now, several weeks before the launch where I’m starting to re-nurture relationships. I wish that I was planting these seeds months ago or years ago, not weeks before the launch. Relationships are like the plants. You had to water them before you expect people to all of a sudden want to invest money in your project. You got to be aggressive but also tactful in the way that you work with other people and enroll them on your vision, or at least take their temperature.

As someone who is pursuing this and has been for a couple of years and had been on this journey for a while now, what is it that inspires you on a daily basis or where do you gain motivation from?

Sending the birthday videos every day reconnects me to my vision every single day. It doesn’t matter if I’m having a bad day and I don’t even want to send the birthday videos. The second that I send them, I feel better. It’s not like, “That’s unique to you, Mark.” It’s scientifically proven that kind acts and showing gratitude naturally make you happier. You’re focusing on a positive and you’re being appreciative. They lower stress and anxiety when we do kind acts. It deepens connections with other people when we are creating these opportunities that wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t reached out to people. I’m opening up a door of possibility and more goodness into my life as a result. Naturally, it makes the world a brighter place. Someone who gets one of these videos, they might be having a bad day and then it gives them a little hop in their step and maybe they’ll smile at somebody else and create some positive ripple effect. That reminds me, when people send me messages, they sent a LoveBomb to someone else. That’s the stuff that lights me up probably more than anything because it’s not about me. I love to see that it has some legs and that it’s making a positive impact.

Do you know Houston Kraft? I got to speak a little bit with him at Character Strong and learn from him. This idea of kindness as he brings forth and you’re iterative of that authenticity, which they’re complementary in many ways, by love how it’s fulfilling the same outward or external purpose, and a result through ways that will hit different people in different stages of life, but also in different words or language that can reach. I see you guys both in very similar spaces. I think more and more, we see the need for this type of work and this type of influence within our lives and the world around us. Now that you’re a father and have a baby girl named Willow, how was that experience of now being a dad and having a family? How has that changed your view of the world and what you see ahead and what you want for her world ahead?

There are two things. The first part, naturally, I’m thinking more long-term than I was thinking before. I certainly want Willow to grow up in a world where there is more love, more connection and less cyberbullying and selfishness. I hope that she doesn’t grow up in a world where social media looks like what it looks like now. I hope she doesn’t live in a world where all the kids her age are absolutely addicted to their phones and never leave their homes. I definitely strive to teach her that and to embody that and to do my part to create it. The other part about being a dad is stepping up myself. I’m not just responsible for myself, I’m responsible for another human being.

You mentioned before the three core drives. The third one you said was tied to being a part of something bigger than yourself or having some deeper why that’s above and beyond you. That’s something that trickling in. I feel it more than I did before Willow was born, but I know that the volume on that is going to get continued to get cranked up. Frankly, I’m excited for that because only I can stand in my own way. I do play tennis. That’s why I got to read that book that you recommended. I think the more that I’m focused out, focused on giving, focused on others and not on my own challenges and the things that hold me back, the more impactful, successful, and happier I’ll be.

When you think about all that you’ve accomplished, all that you’ve done and all that you’re striving to do in your career and in your life thus far, what stands out as something that you’re most proud of?

The TEDx Talk that I gave initially comes to mind. It was a great honor to have that opportunity. I can’t say it was like a dream of mine my whole life. I didn’t know what TED was when I was a kid, but when I first heard of it, I thought, “It was cool.” The fact that I was able to do that was a cool experience. That probably is the top of my list of things that I’m most proud of, aside from becoming a dad I supposed.

Do you plan on having more kids? What do you see as the future for your family?

I’m shortsighted. I’ve got a baby who needs so much love and care and attention. Launching LoveBomb is so much love, time, care, and attention. Also living in a pandemic, I’m not thinking long-term in terms of how big of a family I want to have. I’m taking it one step at a time. I feel like I have a full plate. I’m not entertaining the thoughts of more at this moment, but ask me again in six months and a year, I’ll probably have a different answer.

[bctt tweet=”The only way to create more connections in your life is by being proactive and taking action.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

There’s been so much that we’ve gone through and there’s more that we could. We could talk for hours on end. I typically end with a handful of one-offs here. Before we get there, you did mention a couple of times and it’s come up in a couple of the background calls, I’m curious to know a little bit more of your perspective on Burning Man. I know that it’s been many years of going if not more. From the different people I’ve talked to, that made an impact on their lives. What is it about Burning Man for you? Everyone, especially people that have not gone, including myself, there’s a wide range of perspectives, opinions and thoughts on good, bad and everything in between about the whole experience. How would you describe Burning Man and the role or impact it can play?

Have you ever been to Disneyland or Disney World? What do you like about it?

I like six flags more because of the roller coasters.

It makes you feel alive and it’s fun.

I’m an adrenaline junkie. That’s why I like playing golf. It’s an adrenaline rush. I like the adrenaline of those places.

Burning Man is like that on steroids, acid or whatever you could say. It’s a magical wonderland like a playground for adults. It is a summer camp for adults. It’s different than the day-to-day monotony of life. It’s cool how anything is possible there. The levels of creativity, spontaneity and adventure. It’s challenging. There’s nothing for sale there. You got to bring everything you need for a week. It’s super-hot and dusty during the day. It’s super cold at night. There is bumping base 24 hours a day. You go through a year’s worth of emotions in a week.

I love it so much. It brings out the kid in me, the playfulness, so much fun, expansive and it kept me going back every single year. I love it. I don’t think that Burning Man could replace everyday life, but I certainly do believe that there are many takeaways from Burning Man that can be applied in our daily lives in regards to creativity. When you bike around Burning Man and you see these art cars. There’s literally a 747 rolling around Burning Man. There’s a dance party. The human mind and achievement is unbelievable there. It gets me thinking big, but also in terms of how a community can show up for each other, how you can have gifting, giving economy. When I come back from Burning Man, it impacts the way that I show up in my daily life. It fuels me for maybe not the whole year but for several months. I would highly recommend it to anyone adventurous, who has an open mind, and has some cojones to go there.

I’ve heard of the challenges for sure. That’s no easy thing. You spoke of several times on this conversation of the power of possibility and what happens when we lean into that. Usually, we don’t know what’s possible until we see what’s other people are doing as possible. The creativity that is within us as humans is immense. Usually, we’re only tapping into a piece of that and a place like that can help unlock it, which is a beautiful thing. The version that I’ve been interested in is this thing called Kokoro Camp, which is like a Navy SEAL hell week for civilians. It’s meant to beat the next level of possibility out of you. That’s a little different version, but it’s a similar effect. We’ll see what happens. A few one-offs here, what do you believe to be true that you wish everyone else believed?

There is much more love to go around, and it’s worth your time, energy and attention every single day to make it happen.

If you could study one person for an entire year, who would it be and why?

You might not agree with that. I’ll tell you a reason why I’m going to pick him, but Scooter Braun is the name that comes up for me. Part of the reason why I’m picking Scooter is I know him personally. I went to college with him. He was an acquaintance. I’ve seen him probably twice in many years, but the reason why I bring up Scooter is because of how big of a game he plays. He’s not necessarily beloved by all. I know that Taylor Swift wouldn’t probably have the nicest things to say about him. He’s able to enroll people in these huge visions. He literally started out as a club promoter, discovered Asher Roth and then Justin Bieber. He hyped up and built Justin Bieber to what he is now. He has expanded into film and has created the ability that people gravitate to him for opportunity and exposure. To study the way that he operates in terms of making stuff happens that has such an impact in the cultural zeitgeist are probably the skills that I could learn a lot from. That’s why I pick him. It’s more of a business choice than anything else.

What question do you ask yourself the most?

It’s some extension of, “Do I matter? Am I connected? Do I have my finger on the pulse of what’s going to allow me to connect and make my greatest possible impact? Am I connected with all this stuff or am I completely off base?” It’s that self-worth imposter syndrome. That’s probably the question I asked myself more than asking myself, what do I want? That’s been something that’s in my daily practice that I’ve been doing a better job of asking myself. Ultimately, if we want to live an epic authentic life, we got to be asking ourselves, “What would make authentic life?” Asking myself the question of, “What do I want?” is certainly the question that I’m most committed to more than a self-sabotage and critical question.

This is one of the harder questions I think I’ve heard, which of your current views or beliefs are most likely to be wrong?

This is something that I get from feedback from my girlfriend and from other people where they will say, “If only you got out of your own way, you could change the world or have anything you want.” To some extent, we all have that ability. I’m not putting myself on a pedestal. I’m one of Earth’s seven billion people. I’m like everybody else. The thing where I probably have wrong is the self-doubt and all the stuff that stands between me and being in my life. I believe that that’s probably in a way of what most of us get wrong. We get lost in our darkness and our separateness. We’re not living in our light and our connectedness, which ironically is what I believe we all want. At the same time, we find ourselves living in the disconnect more than we have to.

UAC 165 | LoveBomb


What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?

I got to say I’m much more of an experiential learner. Doing a self-development workshop or thrown in and there’s people in my face and things like that. I tend to transform more than by reading a book. With that said, I’m a big reader. I’ve read so many books. I’ve enjoyed The Science of Getting Rich. It’s an old classic book. Eckhart Tolle’s work comes up for me. I’m a big fan of A New Earth, The Power of Now and The Four Agreements. I was already thinking of that earlier in this conversation when we were talking about assumptions, don’t make assumptions. Those are the few.

What would you say is the learning experience you’ve gained the most from?

Through losing my dad and the divorce, up until my entrepreneurial journey, those were probably the biggest lessons that I had. That transformational course at MITT that I took many years ago changed my life as much as anything ever.

If you had to put one takeaway to each of those experiences of losing your dad and going through a divorce, what was that big takeaway from each of those?

It’s a great question because I think we can all derive some wisdom from asking ourselves those questions about whatever adversity we’ve been in our life. From my dad passing away, it was the importance of relationships and cherishing people while they’re right here right now. LoveBomb and the birthday videos was a direct derivative of that. I know I’m not alone. I’ve talked to many people that the loss of a parent created more gratitude or something like that. That was that one in terms of the divorce, which was something that I never thought was in the cards for me. I thought like I’d get married and we’d be together forever.

The challenge and the struggle that came after that, and then rebuilding myself and realigning to a new purpose was that I’m resilient. I know I can get through everything and this too shall pass. There’s always another season and life is a roller coaster. There’s ups and downs. Now we’re in a pandemic and at some point, we’re not going to be in a pandemic anymore. If you’re going through the worst time of your life, congratulations, I feel for you. There’s going to be a new chapter. Hopefully, we can only go up from here.

The final question that we ask every guest is if you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there or maybe in your case a video reminder, what would you say and why? It could be a short message from you that they get every single morning.

I’m feeling uncomfortable in giving staged things. I’m going to explain what I would say. It would be something along the lines of like, “Good morning, no matter how you’re feeling right now, take a second to honor yourself, to celebrate yourself, to have this opportunity, and today it can be however you want it to be. You know that you’re beautiful, amazing and worthy. Give it your best today. You’ve been through a lot. Today’s going to be another day and do your best to forward your goals, dreams and connect with the people you care about. Do your best. If you find yourself in a little rut, that’s okay, put on your favorite song, go for a walk and allow yourself to feel, but move on and keep rocking.”

Thank you for taking some time. I’m glad you were able to come on and share your story, and the work that you’re up to. For people reading where can they find more about LoveBomb, your work and even your prior work on the podcast? is the place to go. You can check out our beta if you’re reading now. If you’re reading in a couple of months, you can perhaps download the app on the Apple app store. In terms of me, Instagram is a good place @AreYouBeingReal and is the place to go for the podcast.

Mark, thanks again. This has been a blast. I love your energy and what you’re bringing into the world and know that it’s going to impact a lot for good.

Thane, you’re the man. I’m inspired by who you be. This was a beautifully, thoughtful, natural conversation. It was an honor to be a part of it and it speaks volumes to who you are. I know that anyone who’s had the opportunity to work with you has gotten to experience this magic. I would say that if you’ve been following this show for a while and if you’ve been curious, have an opportunity to connect with Thane like I have and in any way. He’s someone who you definitely want to have on your side. Thank you.

Thank you for those kind words. For everyone reading, we hope you have an up and coming week because we are out.

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UAC 164 | Podcasting


Podcasting has been slowly growing as an industry as more and more people are tuning in, and businesses, experts, and influencers are discovering its many benefits. If you are curious about what it takes to start one of your own, then this episode will be a treat! Thane Marcus Ringler interviews on the show leadership coach, business consultant, and host of Win TodayChristopher Cook, to share with us some great insights about podcasting. What does it entail? Is it worth it for you to do? What opportunities does it present? Christopher answers this and more while sharing some of the hard lessons he’s learned. Speaking about the tough times in life that we all will experience, Christopher then opens up about his own dark season right now, being vulnerable in letting us in on his experiences and how he is taking and overcoming it with the help of faith.

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”164: Fellowship Ft. Christopher Cook: On Podcasting, Going Through Dark Seasons, And The Truth We Preach To Ourselves”]

164: Fellowship Ft. Christopher Cook: On Podcasting, Going Through Dark Seasons, And The Truth We Preach To Ourselves

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that it takes living with intentionality, infusing a reason why behind what we do and life is a process as we all know. In this process, we are all becoming, we are growing, we are learning, and that is what being an up and comer is all about. Thank you for tuning in and being a part of this show and this community, being a fellow up in comer in this journey of life. I’m excited to bring this episode. Before we get to this content, I’d love to share a few ways that you can help us out. If you haven’t done one of these ways or a couple of these ways yet, it would mean the world to me and would encourage and help us empower us to keep producing this show.

It doesn’t happen by chance and it isn’t cheap or easy. It takes a lot of time, effort, money and all that to say, we need your help. There are three easy ways. The first is leaving us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, or wherever you listen to podcasts. We have over 100 ratings and reviews on iTunes on Apple podcasts. That’s a fun achievement. I’m excited to get to 200 and you can help me do that. There’s so many of you that haven’t done this and it takes a few seconds. Please do that, but if you want to support us financially, you can also go to where you can make monthly donations to help us pay for producing and creating this show. It’s it doesn’t happen for free. We’d love your support that way.

If you have a company you want to partner with us, reach out Finally, the easiest way to help us out is by sharing this episode or favorite episode with a friend, when you’re reading this episode or maybe a past episode, and you thought of someone else besides yourself that could use it. It’s a great way to share the love by sending them a link to this show or to this episode or to a favorite episode and by sharing more of The Up & Comers Show. You can find us on socials at @UpAndComersShow and we love hearing from you there or by email. As always, don’t be a stranger. Feel free to reach out. That is the housekeeping for our fellowship episode. If you aren’t familiar with fellowship episodes, they are simply more like a peer-to-peer conversation, a little more casual, a little less interview style and a little shorter.

I’m excited to bring you this fellowship with Christopher Cook. He is a leadership coach and business consultant to both Fortune 1000 and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, he is the host of Win Today with Christopher Cook, a popular weekly podcast available on Apple podcasts, Google play, and other outlets. Through his work at and as a featured writer for Success Magazine, he serves as a guide to a modern soulful, wellness minded men and women to confidently design their roadmap to wholeness so that they show up each day, fully alive in their true identity. Christopher is a great dude and we got connected a few years back when I came on his show with my book launch and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. He is a genuine heartfelt dude. I love his heart, mission, work, voice and his experience.

I thought it’d be great to have him on and talk about podcasting. The first half of the conversation revolves around podcasting, what it entails, what it his journey of starting a show has been like, how it’s been helpful, what’s been hard and lessons he’s learned. Other tidbits about podcasting that a lot of you I’m sure are interested in as it’s a growing space and there’s a lot of fun opportunity and also a great experience to grow. That’s definitely worth checking out. The second half is equally, if not more beneficial in the sense, that we talked through the different seasons that he’s gone through and going through a dark season right now, being honest, open and vulnerable about where he is, which is courageous.

I’m grateful to him for his heart and his willingness to share of what it is like to go through a dark season. There are little different segments, but they’re both super helpful and I encourage you to read to the whole thing because it’s worth it. If you haven’t, go check out his show, Win Today with Christopher Cook. It’s an awesome show. Without further ado, please enjoy this fellowship episode with Christopher Cook.

Christopher Cook, welcome to the show. It’s good to see you. I love doing these when you can see each other, even though it’s still virtual, but it adds much more depth in life to these conversations than a phone call. I’m grateful for tools like video calls.

[bctt tweet=”It’s amazing how we refine things just by doing it.  No one starts out that streamlined.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

I have been doing video in this forum and it’s been a game changer. I ask better questions.

We’re going to dive into a lot of things as a catch up and hang out, but I want to start with our similar role in some ways of being a podcast host. In the last couple of years, there’s been quite a rise in podcast, podcasting and people are being aware, listening in and tuning into podcasts. More and more people are curious about what it takes to start a show, what it entails, if it’s worth it, if it’s something they should do and I thought it’d be fun to have you on and share a little bit from your perspective and experience in that journey so that other people can be more formed on it. As we mentioned before we dove in, originally, you found it February of 2016, which has me beat by about a year and some change. Ours was September of 2017. Tell me about this initial idea that was the budding of Win?

It all started with a blog, honestly. As my friend, you know my backstory and because of a lot of adverse circumstances in my life, I wanted to help people, and that’s why I started this blog in late 2014. By late 2015, the blog had grown quite successfully and had a lot of readers. A few friends said, “Chris, you have an audio background, a good speaking voice and a solid communicator. You should try podcasting.” I thought, “I like writing. I’m going to have a go at it.” I wish I could rewind the clock because I didn’t launch correctly at all. I was like, “Here we go.” I had a few episodes recorded. Since I was a little boy, I’ve always loved to ask questions. In fact, I have a picture on my iPhone. I was like 2.5 years old and I had a microphone in my hand. I’ve always loved asking questions.

I launched this podcast in February of 2016, but the blog was where my heart was. I thought, “If we’re going to win now, what does that mean? We’re going to have short quick Win episodes.” Episodes were capped at fifteen minutes and it was designed to be a weekly podcast, but I lost steam and thought, “I like writing,” and it was infrequent. I let it go for ten weeks. There was a ten-week gap in the middle. I didn’t tell listeners anything. I just disappeared. Don’t do that if you’re starting a podcast and by the grace of God and a lot of sound advice and a passion from the Lord, I believe, by February or March of 2018 I went, “I think I have something to say and this is the right forum.” I totally redesigned the podcast and went more long form interview style. Honestly, I’ve been podcasting seriously for probably eighteen months, but no more.

I feel like that’s true for pretty much all of us in any endeavors that we always learn what not to do before we learn what to do in anything. I share that a lot too. I did read up on some of the advice of like, “What to do when you launch a podcast?” and all that, but I didn’t execute it and go through with it like the advice they have been given. It was the same thing as you. We want it to be weekly and then we were like, “This is a lot of time, work and effort.” We then went to biweekly. There was a season where we dropped it for 1 or 2 months.

We did say like, “We’re going to need a break,” but it’s the same thing as like, “It’s hard to be consistent.” It’s hard to know what you’re doing. It’s hard to have that strong identity of what it’s about and what your goal is because your initial idea always pivots and transitions as you do it, which is why it’s hard to have a long lasting show with it being consistent from the very beginning. I feel like most shows that are around for years are in a constant state of transition in some ways.

To your point, because I was focused as a writer, the podcast was barely a hobby. I don’t know if your readers are hip to this, but I’m an Enneagram One. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it right the first time and I’m going to go big or go home. I did the podcast well, it sounded good and I do hear secrets out. I do all of the work myself. I produce it, edit it, and mix it, the whole thing myself. I didn’t know the voice I wanted to carry in the space at the time and I didn’t know what I wanted to say. That fed the inconsistency. Now, it’s a different picture and super consistent. I turned down guests, and that’s not to say I’m someone special or something like that. It’s just to say I believe in being super consistent and drilling down on a niche in a topic and I speak to a certain people and I stay consistent with that. That has changed the game.

UAC 164 | Podcasting

I’m curious because for us, it has been 4 to 5 cycles of shifting, transitioning or pivoting into more niches or nuanced way, but how many iterations for you has it been along the path? There was a big shift in 2016 and then 2018 as it became much more of a focus then, but have you seen multiple different iterations in a sense of the show?

I’ll expand your question to even mention the blog. If I were to include the blog and the answer, it’s easily five with the podcast. It’s easily three major iterations. All with the same passion point, but not as clear. I feel like, this is how I can answer that question quickly is because I know how many times I’ve changed the intro music.

That does go park for the chords. It creates a whole different vibe. To give people a picture who have no concept of podcasting, give people a snapshot of what it means and what it takes to go from idea to publishing an episode because it is an extensive process. We all underestimate it. For disclosure, we did edit it. I did edit it from the start and then I ended up getting some interns over to help, and then now I do hire a company. After we’re done here, they’re going to help take it to completion, which is an expense, but it’s also a time saver. That’s been the route I’ve gone, but I have a lot of respect for someone who does from start to finish because I did that as well for quite a while it’s no small fit.

I’m just anal. I’ll bounce an episode, print a mix and be like, “No, that fade is not right.” That’s why I do it myself. I’m frugal as well and one of my consulting businesses takes care of the podcast and all that, but I’m super compulsive. I’m a musician and I have an audio background. I know what I want it to sound like. I know what I want EQ to sound like. I know how hot I want the compression is. I’m a stickler.

Does that help to have that background too?

Enneagram One.

My wife is an Enneagram One. I’m much more acquainted now. Give a snapshot of what it looks like for you in going from, maybe even booking a guest to publishing the episodes.

Caveat, it doesn’t have to be this way for everyone because I know people who hit record, talk, hit stop and upload it and that’s it. For some people that’s okay. I know two podcasts whose audience is ten times mine and they record their audio on their iPhone in voice memo, upload it and I’m like, “What in the world?” The way I craft my show is this way. I think of it as a story arc. I’ll take you through the show format, and then I’ll talk about how guests come to the show and then how I prepare for an episode. The way I formatted the show is firstly, to know that it is an interview format. I’m interviewing people, but the way the show lays itself out is I tease the episode. Let’s say, for the first fourteen seconds, as soon as you hit play, it’s a teaser.

It’s a great short segment of what someone is saying in the interview, but it’s only fourteen seconds because I want to get to the content. I have a show opener, which is a professional voiceover with music and then it goes into me and I do a pre-intro. I still do a longer pre intro many years ago. I would almost set up a story and with music underneath, give the background to the guest and all that, but I found that I didn’t want the listener waiting 5.5 minutes before we got to the interview. Every podcast I listened to, I end up hitting fifteen seconds for it because I want to get to the content. I thought, “No, Chris. It’s a good idea, but I need to get to content quicker.”

[bctt tweet=”One of the missing skills among interviewers today is the ability to actively listen.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

I’ve sorted my pre intro and I start with this because again, I am not the hero. I’m an interviewer, I’m the guide. What I do is establish a pain point or ask a question to the listener. “You know how it feels when this happens? Maybe right now you’ve joined us, you’re exhausted, you feel numb and you don’t know what to do?” I’ll open the story loop for the listener and then I will introduce the listener to the guide, the guide being the guest, not me, I’m the facilitator. I’m the tour guide, but they’re the actual guide and I’ll say, “Joining us on the show is so and so. Here’s what we’re going to talk about and here’s what you’re going to learn. I’m excited to dive in right now. Let’s get to my conversation with my boy, Thane Ringler.”

That’s how I set up and then we go right into it. When I do interviews, I do all the pleasantries of, “Welcome to the podcast. I’m glad you’re here.” I’ve edited a lot of that out lately. When I go from my pre-intro on the show, I’m right into my first question. I want to keep the story loop open. In film, there’s a term called the temporary suspension of disbelief. It’s when you get engrossed in the story that you’re like, “This is real.” I want to grab someone from a story perspective and add value to them. We’re right into the interview and then that interview, as I said, when I first answered it was 12.5 minutes of content.

Now, when people book an interview with me, I go 45 to 60 or closer to is pretty typical. I’m doing an interview with a friend. His name is Paul Young and he’s a good friend of Jamie’s. Last time Paul and I were on the phone, it went over two hours and I had to cut it down to 1.5 and I suspect the same will be the case. He’s a sweet guy and loves Jesus. We usually have a great conversation. I let that conversation develop organically. I have music at the end of the show, which takes me to a post show and I used to be all pithy with the listener because I thought it was cool, but now I’m like, “No.” People either turn the episode off.

Let’s be real. At the end of a main interview, how many people stick around for the outro? I thought, “I’ve got to add value quickly.” As soon as that interview is done, I say something instead of, “That was such a great interview. Don’t you guys enjoy it?” I’ll literally say something like, “, that’s the place to access all of the resources mentioned in this conversation. Go there now. Next time on the show, I sit down with so and so, and we’re talking about this. Here’s a preview of that conversation.” I tease next episode for 45 to 50 seconds. It’s longer than the pre-show teaser. It’s a more robust teaser of next episode. I then come out of that simply with, “Don’t miss my conversation with so and so right here on Win Today.”

That then goes to a prerecorded outro, which is like, “Thanks for listening. Go to, subscribe and get on the inner circle of email readers. Shoot me a review on Apple podcasts.” I got to tell you a thing a little ticked off because people are not quick to rate and review and I’m like, “It’s not that hard.” I’m not holding a grudge. I wish people would rate and review the podcast more. It’s all good. No worries. I would normally never talk like this on a podcast as a guest, but Thane is my boy and my friend. From beginning to end, that’s the show. Our average show length is 55 minutes to an hour. Like I said, I’m hanging out with my friend, Paul. That’ll be a two-hour episode. Jamie Winship’s a mentor in my life. Guys like Paul and Jamie, I would do a two-hour episode no problem.

Jamie’s episode 156 was over two hours and I wish that would be four. 

UAC 164 | Podcasting

You don’t want to edit any of it out because it’s all brilliant.

That’s the show itself, but on the postproduction, if an episode is an hour long, how many hours of work is it post recording for you to move from the raw components to the finished product?

I use a recording software. If the readers are reading now, I use a software called Pro Tools. It’s professional recording software and I have created a template for Win Today. Built into it are markers and the intro music. I’ve got the outro music in there. I’ve got my little sound effects, switches, all that is in the template. I open up the template before I record, save it as whatever the show number, the guest, record my audio, and then like you and I are on Skype record that I’m working hard and I have worked real hard studying Larry King, Katie Couric, a friend of mine, his name is Ken Coleman. They’re world-class interviewers. I’ve endeavored to study world-class interviewers in such a way that I anticipate not needing to edit any of the main interview.

The only post production is finding that pre-show teaser that fourteen seconds, which I put at the top of the show. Why is it fourteen seconds? It doubles as the audiogram on Instagram. It fits within one story. I do that. Usually, it’s snapping in the main interview. I do my pre show. I write that pre show after I do the interview, not before, because oftentimes the interview E will say something that would trigger a better thought than I had before I conducted the interview. My post-production including show notes prep, social media assets have 3.5 hours per episode, which is cut down. Like episode one, 2016, I took eighteen hours to edit the freaking episode like, “What in the world?”

It’s amazing how we refine things by doing it. To give people an encouragement that are hearing that, you will not start out that streamlined and no one does and that’s okay. You will get there by practice, refining it and we have to learn the ropes by doing it. A lot of the time you hear someone such as Chris, who’s been doing it for quite a while and doing exceptionally well. It sounds easy and it never is easy. We get better at and it becomes more and more easy the more we do it because of the work we put into it. That disclaimer is helpful.

You develop a flow. I go in asking myself, “What do I want the listener to know? What I want the listener to do? How can I speak to their pain points?” I have these hero targets that I go in. If I capture those, then I’m good. I don’t ever want to hijack an interview and then all of a sudden steamroll a gas, I may guide the conversation, but at the same time, I tell every guest before we hit record, “This is about lifting your voice. This isn’t about my agenda.” I can speak to guest’s development, questions and all that if that’s valuable.

If we highlight some of that, what would be in preparation for a successful interview? What are the components that you found from your experience that have made the biggest difference that have added the most value or helped you meet the best interview possible?

[bctt tweet=”Debates are never a conversation. Debates have winners and losers. Debates are about my side versus yours. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Study and show prep. I work with a lot of publicists on a national level who send me guests. Most of my guests come to me these days and as every good publicist will do, they’ll send you suggested interview questions and all of my closest publicist friends know this, I don’t look at them. If there’s an associated book, I’m not kidding. I read the whole book and then I’ll go on a YouTube and I’ll research prior interviews the guest has done so that I can gauge how long, how many questions I need to prep. I’ll say this as an example, if I know my body interview needs to be between 45 and 60 minutes, and I do research on a guest, then I go find 3 or 4 interviews they’ve done previously, I’ll determining an average for the time they spent on answering each question and then I’ll say, “They average between 30 to 45 seconds per answer. That means I need X amount of questions or maybe they spend two minutes on an answer. That means I need 23 questions.”

I’ll do a ton of show prep. Young podcasters, I would say this to you, if you think you’ve done enough show prep, you probably haven’t. Over prepare and go deep. Having said that thing, I go into every interview with, 22 or 23 or 24 or 25 questions. As I get into the interview though, I listen. I may set the questions that I’ve spent a ton of time on a side, because this is the key young podcasters misses, they don’t listen. They’ll fire off a question and then the guests will be answering and they’ll be preparing for the next question. I’m like, no. Listen actively that your next question may be why, or you may employ a trick called mirroring and you’ll repeat the last three words of the last thing they said, because you want to drill down deeper or a simple question is, “How’d that feel when? What I heard you say is?”

Be prepared to do all the show prep you need to do, but then go into the interview and be willing to set your questions aside and listen so well. The guest will often say something that’ll trigger a better question than you had prepared. One of the most missing skills in interviewers now is the ability to listen actively. That’s a lot easier now because we have the ability to do this over video. I heard a stat years ago and the statistics says that 85% of all communication of meaning is nonverbal. Check this out. I had a guest before and I watched his body language as he finished answering the question. I said, “Hang on. I need to slow you down.” When you said, what you did, you look like you squirmed. “Can we talk about that? What was it about what you said that was uncomfortable?”

Now, we’re having a conversation because if podcasting in this interview format was all about information exchange, it’d get boring quickly, but if we’re interested in having a conversation, our relationship is built. That’s how I roll and it’s taken time. I was nervous as a question to ask her that I did exactly opposite of what I’ve advised for the first six months of podcasting, because I didn’t know. I didn’t like the sound of my voice and all of this thing, but eighteen months on of feeling a lot more comfortable, I think I ask way better questions than I did and I’m not in a hurry, pace yourself, breathe. Some of the best questions we can ask are, “Why? Tell me more. How did that feel?” As someone with a counseling background, it’s a tactic in active listening. “What I heard you say is,” you’re reflecting and it allows them to dive deeper and it’s powerful so they feel heard.

Those were so good. To underscore that, over prepare and go deep are the two greatest pieces of advice for anyone starting out in the show when the podcast space and what you followed up with by actively listening is equally crucial. Anyone who’s heard podcasts and got a survey of the landscape, you quickly know podcasts that are prescriptive in their question asking versus podcasts that are much more intuitive. It’s the same thing with practitioners of the body. If you go to a doctor and all they’re doing is prescribing based on symptoms versus intuiting and trying to figure out what’s the root problem that’s going on here, there’s a huge difference.

The same is true in podcasting. They serve different consumers a lot of times, but the value, like you said, is found in that active listening and asking good questions is such a big part of that. I’m curious alongside that in your time as a podcaster what about this journey of podcasting? How has it grown you as a person or made you better as a human? What are the benefits that you’ve received from doing this, from going on this journey?

I’ve become a better conversationalist whether or not we’re willing to admit it. We have ourselves on our mind a lot. You’re married and so you could relate to this. You know how many times have you been in intense fellowship with your wife and she’s stating her grievance and you’re formulating your rebuttal while she’s speaking, but that’s human nature. We’re wired to avoid pain and in the presence of fear and shame to self-protect or self promote. It taught me to slow down to be curious about the perspectives of others might have and the value they bring.

UAC 164 | Podcasting

I’ve always been a curious person. I love asking questions, but as I’ve grown and matured and hopefully, wised up over the last few years, I don’t ask because I want to exchange information. I ask because I am curious about wanting to grow. I know that may be an overly simplistic answer, but the truth is it made me a better conversationalist. It’s made me a better friend. I can sit down and turn my phone off and look at someone in the eye, practice good, active listening, and care about what they’re saying. You and I hopped on this conversation and the first thing I did, is I threw my phone on, “Do not disturb.” I’m like, “This is my time with my friend, Thane, and we’re going to be focused.”

Slow down and be curious. Those are such good pursuits and results in it. It’s also a great fruit of anyone that’s trying to do podcasting well.

We live in a world that is in an echo chamber of a 24-hour news cycle, social media. We have information available to us at speeds like we’ve never had in human history and we’re getting used to rapid fire information, but the art of conversation has been lost.

What’s funny is it was replaced it for headlines, clickbait, curated images and then also debates, and debates are never a conversation. Debates have winners and losers and debate is my side versus your side. Debates produce division. Conversations and relationships are what produces unity. That is one of the biggest elements for the division that we’re facing in our country is we’re defaulting to debates, clickbait, headlines, and then these fake images of the light that we want to have or hope to have.

It’s a deadly spiral that’s going downward. Podcasts great remedy or tool to counteract that when done well and intentionally or in trying to know and understand like you were talking about before. It’s a great integrated thing that podcasts are growing in their exposure to more people and more people are tuning in and listening because this is how we learn by hearing real life people’s experiences, stories, and ideas and perspectives, and then evaluating them based on our own. It does broaden our horizons a lot.

Before we dove in, we talked a little bit about our mutual friend, Jamie. He’s played a pretty active role in mentorship in your life and I hope to have the same in my life. It’s been sweet sharing some conversation with him this 2020 so far. For everyone who hasn’t read, you have to go check out that episode. I know he’s done your show at least several times. One of the things that you mentioned before we hopped on was that you were close to being done with podcasting. Even from all the fruit we’ve talked about that comes from the show, you found yourself and find yourself in a place where you were ready to give it up. I’m curious to hear a little bit more about finding yourself in that place and that season that you’re currently in.

Anytime there’s change in life, there’s a degree of loss and anytime there’s loss, it requires grief and the inside out, outside in amount of change, loss, transition, got to a fever pitch level in my own life. It’s hard to talk about without not being on the verge of shedding emotion, which is okay and I’m okay with that, but I was tired. I had experienced a lot of loss, not compared to the level of loss I experienced years ago. It’s not that I need to put a caveat on this because I don’t live as a victim of life, but we’re humans with emotions and we feel pain. There had been such a level of continual change. Along with those feelings of disappointment and that thing, I was tired. I got to this place a couple of months. I don’t know if I have anything to say anymore.

[bctt tweet=”You’ll never find the healing you need until you’re willing to be present with the pain right now.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

I’m tired and I’m working through it. I’m not through it. I don’t have this glorious testimony to say, “Look what the Lord did.” He is doing something, don’t get me wrong and I’m not living as a victim of this either. I’m a human with real feelings. I’m a high feeler so I feel and care deeply. I joke with people and say that the Lord put my tear ducts where my bladder should have been. I got to this place. COVID, for all of us, exposed some cracks in the foundation a little bit.

For me, one of the things that exposed is that my worth and value was too tied up in my ability to show up and deliver and perform. I am an Enneagram One. My predisposition in my wiring would say erroneously, that my worth and value comes from doing well, performing well, delivering, wearing the smile and none of it was fake. None of it from my end was inauthentic. It’s just that I had this foundation collapsing in me of going, “I’m tired.” Here’s the interesting thing is that through it, all my relationship with the Lord has gone to a whole new level.

You say, “Chris, how do those two coexist?” Amidst the grief and amidst a lot of change and disappointment, I’ve realized in my identity that I am okay with myself for the first time if I never produced content. If I never show up in a public space, but instead I am as loved sitting on my couch, folding laundry by the father who calls me and by name. I am, when I deliver good content or preach a good message. A lot of my personal identity has been tied up in, “Chris saved the day. Chris did it. He’s a good communicator.”

It’s tough to talk about, but I’m willing to be vulnerable with you because you’re my friend, number one. Number two, we all come to this place in life where we realize what’s driving us and when I came to the place of saying, “Lord, you created me for your purposes and your purposes alone.” Not only did that help bring some healing, but it took the pressure off I was putting on myself. I’m going to flip through my Bible it’s Psalm 57. I woke up and I was exhausted and trouble sleeping. Don’t get me wrong. Maybe there are people joined with us who is going through a rough time.

There is a time to grieve and there’s a veer real time to be present with that. You’ll never find the healing you need until you’re willing to be present with the pain. You don’t create an identity out of the pain. You don’t live in that and allow the course of your life to be defined by what is happening to you now, but it’s to say that we find ourselves in this season. I read Psalm 57. David writes, “Be merciful and gracious to me, Oh God, be merciful and gracious to me for my soul, our mind, our will and our emotions takes refuge and finds shelter and confidence in you. Yes, in the shadow of your wings, will I take refuge and be confident until calamities and destructive storms are passed.” When I read that, I broke, “Father, I’m exhausted.” This plays into the broader sense of my story.

For any of us, especially if you serve the Lord and you’re reading this podcast, the day that we decide that what Jesus did for us was greater than what happened to us is the day that we’re going to take a first step into pursuing wholeness. The other thing I’ve also learned right now is that piece. This is going to sound like a platitude, but I swear it’s not. I’m a preacher so alliteration is my thing. Peace is not the absence of a problem and in our life. Peace is the presence of a person in the midst of our pain and our problem. For me, one of the things I’ve found is that the pathway to peace is found through pain, not around it, but when we avoid pain, because we don’t like it, it compounds and stays with us. Jamie has this killer talk. It’s from 2017. Jamie is talking about free radicals and oxidation of the cells and in it, he was saying, “Anytime, basically, we are in transition in life. The Lord uses pain.”

Not because he’s a hard taskmaster, but we wouldn’t go, we wouldn’t move, if there wasn’t something saying, “I got to get out of this.” That also plays into the fact that for me, when the pain of when the pain of regret becomes greater than the pain of making a change, it will make a change. That’s been the journey. I know I’ve said a lot and I apologize for rabbit trailing there, even if I’ve said too much. It’s not been an easy season. I’ve been looking for my passion once again. I’m in the middle of it. I don’t have this grandiose testimony, but what I do know is the Lord is faithful and He promises to never leave us or forsake us. What I do have is a promise of his word, his presence, a great family, a sense of purpose and calling. I don’t know how it all plays out. Like I said, I’m in the middle of a lot of change now. It hurts. I wish I could get rid of it.

UAC 164 | Podcasting

Podcasting: Transformation comes about by being vulnerable and surrendering—surrendering the results of whatever may come.


Even before we hopped on, you mentioned that transformation is vulnerability and surrender. That’s a beautiful framework is that’s how transformation comes about by being vulnerable and surrendering the results of whatever may come. Some of the things you said, as of going through this experience of change, that leads to lost and grief. This is something we all experienced as humans. It seems like, especially within our culture, it’s not okay to not be okay. We’re not allowed to not be okay. We’re not allowed to go through a period of suffering or grieving and that’s looked down upon. Little’s maybe swept under the rug or avoided at all costs. Why is it that this is culturally taboo and maybe even how that has affected you in this time of what maybe the surrounding culture says about it?

We wear the mask because we’re afraid. Everything in life comes down to either fear or love. I believe shame is a manifestation of fear. Shame says, “I am uniquely and fatally flawed. In and of myself. It’s not what I have or haven’t done. It’s just me. There’s something wrong with me.” I think it all comes down to fear. We put on the mask, we say face because we’re afraid and neurobiologically, we are wired to avoid pain, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Thousands of years ago, we were running from saber tooth tigers, but we’re not anymore.

We run into hard circumstances, confrontations, conflict, circumstances that provoke the feelings of fear and shame, but too often, we create this false lived identity out of those circumstances. After time, because we haven’t dealt with those, our true identity is indistinguishable from the mask we wear and we wear the mask because we’re afraid to deal with the fear. You deal with the fear. The fear is not the enemy. It’s what the fear is pointing to. The false identity. The believer of lie that, “I am unlovable. I am a mistake.” I could drill down on that to the extent you want me to, but it’s to say that let’s use COVID as an example. We’ve all experienced COVID. There’s not a person out of the 8 billion on this planet that have not experienced COVID and its ramifications to a certain extent. Here in the United States, people lost jobs and when they lost the job, it provoked in an emotion.

Let’s say the emotion was, “I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to provide for my family.” What am I telling myself through that? “I’m not going to be provided for.” That’s the core on truth. That’s what the fear points do, “I will not be taken care of.” When’s the earliest time in my life I heard, believed or received, I will not be taken care of in my life? When I was 5 or 6 years old, this situation happened. All of a sudden, now, I live through the self-protective mechanism and armor of, because I fundamentally believe I will not be taken care of in life. That fear, in men, particularly, manifests in anger.

I have to be vitriolic on social media. I’ve got to get in arguments, whatever, and I’ve not done a good job of drilling down on this specifically, but it is to say that everything comes down to the fear. The core fear is, “I’m not going to be taken care of.” Let’s go to my circumstance in the last few months. My core fear was, “I am unlovable unless I produce, I uniquely in and of myself am annoying to people.” I said that on your show, but it is the truth of the false identity that I’ve had to deal with.

Thank you for opening up about that. I relate to that deep level, especially when I was coming out of golf and having this “failed career” that was what defined me. That was my identity that I knew myself as in many ways. It was the most terrifying thing to try and leave that and go into a new pursuit, leaving this place, feeling like a failure. Even now, it’s shown up in marriage at a new level of, “Now it’s not just me, it’s me and my wife, it’s us now and what does that mean? How does that change things?” There’s a whole new dying to identity and self. If we’re not going through this, we’re not growing into who God’s called us to be not doing the actual work that matters.

For you, in this time, with this recognizing of what the fear is and what it’s pointing to, what is the process like for you? It’s not this snap of the fingers like, “We’re past this.” It’s a sledging through the trenches and a lot of ways. It’s dealing with this grief and these emotions. Like you said, being a big feeler, but not being the victim of this or the world or the circumstances is such a difficult thing. What does that dance like for you?

[bctt tweet=”Peace is not the absence of a problem in our life. Peace is the presence of a person in the midst of our pain and problem.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

As I said, it, everything in life comes down to fear or love. In first John, he writes, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. For fear has with its torment.” If everything in life comes down to fear or love, the core issue I have to first reconcile is do I believe I am uniquely and unconditionally loved? When I believe I am loved, I can trust because my trust issues, my drive to perform, achieve and truth be told thing came down to a lack of trust because I had been disappointed in my past so I had to take life in my own hands. I had to take matters into my own hands and I had to continually show up in order to make sure that things wouldn’t get screwed up. That’s exhausting.

It’s coming into the experience of the unconditional perfect love of a father. Maybe people reading right now are like, “Here you go again.” I don’t even know what to do when you say that. Tell him that. Confession isn’t saying you’re sorry for a bunch of stuff. Confession is telling the truth. “Lord, I don’t even know how to receive your love. Lord, I don’t know how to even spend time with you.” Say that and don’t leave. Wait, sit there. If you’ve made Jesus, your Lord, the Holy spirit of God lives in you. He’s described as the spirit of truth, your counselor, advocate, standby. The Bible says, “He will lead and guide you into all truth.” Truth is not the concept. Truth is a person who is Jesus himself. Tell him that.

I tell the Lord a lot, “I’m scared. Right now, I don’t feel like I can trust you.” That’s hard for me to say, but, “Lord, what do you want me to know about that? What do you say about that?” David said it best in Psalm 139. We read the Bible. We read these case studies in the Bible, but because it’s scripture and written perhaps in a linguistic type of way that we wouldn’t ordinarily speak, we venerate the way in which the writer’s speaking. We then go, “I can’t relate.” No. David says, “Search me, God. Try my anxious thoughts. See if there’s anything in me that is displeasing to you. God, take a shovel, go to work, please. I need help.”

That’s what I do. Like, “Lord, searched me, please. I am coming to you in truth and I’m not sure even how to put two and two together inside my own feelings, but you do and I trust you even when I don’t feel like I can, Lord. I’m asking new, according to your word, to search me and know me and try my thoughts.” I sit and listen. If I believe that the Holy spirit lives in me, that means I can hear from Him. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice and another, they will not follow.” The issue is not the ability to hear the issue is our willingness to stay so attuned and to develop a hearing ear, to develop familiarity with his voice, to develop that place where we know how, when and the manner in which He speaks to us in our true identity.

We have to come to in truth. I think that’s the starting place is coming to Jesus and truth and allowing him to do that great work, like we are incapable of fixing ourselves. That’s why earlier I said, self-improvement is junk. We’re not capable of fixing ourselves. What we are capable of is coming to a perfect loving father and saying, “I’m scared to surrender. Teach me how to trust you and then doing it.” That first step is called vulnerability, which leads to surrender and to a process of transformation as you alluded.

The other thing I want to say to this is that back to this 24-hour new cycle life that we live. Too often where event based instead of process-based the treasures in the journey, not in the destination. I know that sounds a little plasticky and a little Christianese, but it’s true. It’s cool the way Paul sets this up, because he’s talking about the Lord’s desire for us to be whole spirit, soul body, 1st Thessalonians 5:24-35 in Chapter 5 says, “Faithful is he who is calling you to himself. Long before we ever called to do something, we were called to him.” The point of this is fellowship. He wanted us, He wanted worshipers, who would through their freewill, activate the choice to live above their circumstances and to make the decision not to be victims of life, but instead worship Him in the midst of our trouble.

There’s a lot of choice in it. I start there, I start with truth. As Millennials, you and I are in a culture who has said that truth is a moving target, but I want to say fast that we need regular relationship with the word of God. We need to discern what He has said, how He thinks, so that we can discern What he is saying. God will never contradict what He has said by what He’s saying. I hear people say all the time, “Chris, I don’t read the Bible. I’m led by the spirit.” I say, “You’re under the spirit of deception.” You’re opening yourself up for deception at the very least. We’ve got to be anchored in this thing and we’ve got to read it until we hear our own voice.

UAC 164 | Podcasting

Podcasting: Shame is a manifestation of fear. Shame says, “I am uniquely and fatally flawed in and of myself.”


That’s the beauty of the Psalms. That moment in Psalm 57. That’s a remarkable, “Lord. My soul takes refuge in and finds confidence and shelter in you.” I made that a declaration, despite what I feel. I came to Him in truth and said, “Lord, your truth overrides my truth.” Too many of us, especially, in Christianity, we live these plasticky lives. Not because we’re intending to do so. It’s because we think we have to be formulaic in our relationship with Him. Denial is not faith, denial is unbelief. If we’re feeling a certain way, we’re not led by those feelings, we don’t make decisions from those feelings. There is a fact that I’m in transition and I’ve been going through a rough time. That is a fact, but I take my facts to Jesus and confess my truth to Him. He says, “Let me tell you my truth about you now in your true identity.” I go, “Okay.”

That is a daily thing. In going to him and saying, “I feel unseen, unheard, this and this happened and I’m frustrated by this, Lord, and I’m feeling this way.” It’s stupid to deny what we’re feeling, but it’s equally stupid to be led by our feelings and make decisions by our feelings. We hear about this thing about authenticity and authenticity is not doing what feels right, authenticity is doing what is right. We come to the Lord with the truth of how we’re feeling and the truth of our circumstances. We lay that before the feet of Jesus. We say, “Now, Lord metanoia or repentance.” Repentance is not weeping and crying my eyes out. It may involve that, but repentance is receiving the metanoia, his truth in exchange for my own truth, because my truth is subservient to His truth. I find out His nature by reading His word and then submitting myself to his active presence of the Holy spirit in my life. It’s a daily thing.

That’s a great section. If you’re reading go back and reread. what you said about, it’s stupid to deny our feelings and stupid to also be led by our feelings is such a helpful way to put that it’s in this messy, middle in the gray of saying, “We’re not suppressing and denying how we feel, but I’m also not going to allow my feelings to completely guide and direct my life and actions.” Often, we look for one or the other, it’s like, “Tell me what to do. Should I suppress and denied or should I let my feelings take control and I’m going to be led by Him?” Let the chaos begin. I need to be recognizing and not suppressing or denying. That’s my default err, is I don’t feel deeply it takes me a while to even become aware. I’m a three on an Enneagram. Recognizing my heart and how I feel is extremely hard.

My wife has helped me understand that more and more, but it’s unhealthy for me to not recognize how I’m feeling and I need to grow in that it’s uncomfortable. It’s not fun, it’s painful, but as a one and my wife is the same way a feeling is deep and you are aware and present with it and it’s the same journey in a different vein in a lot of ways. You’ve talked about going into God, taking your truth and pairing it with God’s truth and then being subservient to that, which is a beautiful process. What do you see as what lies ahead for you in this journey and this process of transformation in this time of change and going through this journey of transformation? What do you see as the process that a way to ahead?

Specifically, I don’t know, but here’s what I do know because of the promise of the Lord. This is why we take our truth, our current reality to Him in confession and tell Him our truth to receive His truth and His perspective. David wrote in Psalm 27:13-14, “What would it become of me? Had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living? His word says that he refreshes and restores my soul. His word says that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” If what I’m experiencing right now isn’t good, I haven’t seen the end of the story. His word says that he knows the thoughts, blueprint, purpose for which I have been created. His word says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you and I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” His word says that, “He’s preparing me for a good work.” His word says that, “He is faithful to complete that work.”

His word says that, what he’s prepared for me is better than what I could imagine, hope, dream, and think of. We have to be committed to the process because in the middle of my vulnerability with you, Thane, and saying, I am in a season where I don’t necessarily have all the answers to why things are happening, the way they are happening. The thing I will say is because of the character of my father is consistent I’ve learned to abide in His truth and His love. I’ve learned to surrender these false identities to receive the true identity for which he’s created me to live in. What I do know is that he’s preparing me to step into that, which he has already prepared for me.

Some people said, “What do you mean?” You can read this case study in 1st and 2nd Samuel. David was anointed to be King as a teenager, but between 1st Samuel Chapter 16 and 2nd Samuel early on was twenty years. There is time between anointing and appointing. He was appointed King, he was anointed King, as a young boy. He was appointed King at around age 37. In between the anointing and appointing is this word called time and process, where the Lord is preparing us for that, which he has prepared for us. I’m committed right now to this journey. If everyone who’s reading this is one thing I say, yes, I’ve been vulnerable. Yes, I’m in a process of transition. Yes, there’s been grief and pain. Yes, I almost quit the podcast, but because of the love of the father who calls me by name, I’ve come back to the place of recognizing, knowing that He’s called me and created me for His purposes.

[bctt tweet=”Everything in life comes down to either fear or love.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

How could I quit on His purposes? I think it’s a stewardship of my life. That’s the sobering thing about this. The reason I didn’t quit is because what I’m doing is a calling. I want to steward that what she’s given me well. I don’t want to be led by the way I feel. As real and as painful as this season has been, and as confusing as it has been and with the loss, transition, change and the feelings of numbness and burnout that I have felt in the season, I will not be led by those things. I will be real about those things like I am now, but I will not be led by those things because he, who began a good work in me is faithful to bring it to pass. I say that in faith because my God is not a man that is capable of lying. The last time I checked, we were not created to build our own platform and our own kingdom. We were called to advance the work of the one who called us by name.

That’s what this is all about. Why didn’t I quit? Why am I here now? Why am I here sharing vulnerably? To say, you’re not alone and let it be known on record that the testimony of the Lord is sure and once again, “He who began a good work in me is faithful to bring it to pass.” Therefore, let us run. Let us receive strength. Let us receive that revival for our souls once again, that we may look to our father and say, “I judge you as faithful. I consider you righteous, faithful, the author and the finisher of my faith and for the joy that was set before you, you endured the cross so that I could experience freedom and life.” It’s interesting that scripture I alluded to is Hebrews 12:1 that says putting away all that distracts us from Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.

The question I have for all of us, reading this blog or joined in this conversation with Thane and me is this, “What’s distracting?” When we don’t bring reconciliation to that, which distracts us, we easily get depressed and discouraged, distraction uncontained can lead to depression and discouragement. I feel like one of the greatest tactics of the enemy is distraction. I could look at what’s not happening in my life and what’s happening for other people and I could get discouraged and depressed, “Lord, why am I experiencing this?” Let us not forget that the finest wine and the finest oil on the planet though, it starts as a seed and a piece of fruit is crushed. It’s left alone in the dark where the process of maturation takes place.

It’s never easy. I like to say all the time, “Words are cheapest. Conversation is fairly cheap, but the reality is beyond this conversation of where this conversation stem from is not cheap and it’s not easy.” What I love about all that you’re saying, and what you’ve shared is that you’re not preaching to people who are reading, you’re preaching to yourself this truth. It’s a truth that we need to preach ourselves, especially, in these seasons of suffering and that’s what’s real. It’s not, “Look at us on this pedestal with microphones.”

That’s not what this is about. This is, “I’m saying the truth that I’ve been appreciating myself every day in this season of struggle and of processing.” I love those questions of, “How could I quit on His purposes? How could I quit on furthering the kingdom, not my kingdom? What’s distracting you in that?” Those were powerful to sit with. I know they’re even spring a lot of interesting thought on my end. I’m curious as we bring this to a close, what do you see as your identity from God that you’re holding onto in this season?

One of the fundamental Identity names that He’s called me as strategist. Chief Strategist was the name I received from him in 2017 and then teacher in God’s mouthpiece, but son is the most valuable. As a son, I abide in the house. I’m in my father’s house and all that he has is mine. It reminds me of the story in Luke 15 and I remember when the one son goes off and squatters his inheritance and the elder brother is like, “That’s not fair.” The father is so gracious. That whole story is not about the rebellious son, it’s about the father. We see the father, heart of God in that and the father says to the son, “Son, all that I’ve ever had has always been yours.”

That’s why the identity name son means so much because He’s given me His Holy spirit. He’s given me the resources of heaven. Ephesians 1:3, in the Passion Translation says that, “Everything heaven contains has already been lavished upon us.” You can read Paul’s writing. It’s why Paul never pray, “Give me this or that.” Paul says, “Open my eyes to see that which has already been made available. Give me a spirit of wisdom, discovery and revelation to learn how to discern, understand and receive that, which you’ve already made available to me. Your joy, Jesus, is my delight.” I’ll say this, let us not forget the long game.

[bctt tweet=”Denial is not faith. Denial is unbelief.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

This thing called life should be stewarded well. We’ll give account for our stewardship of that, which he’s given us, but everything we do here is planting seeds for eternity. The reason I want to steward this thing well is because I want to be trusted and I want to hear well done. Eternity is forever. I cannot wait to see my mom again. I miss her so much right now. When we play the long game and we realize that we’ve been created with and for any eternal purpose, that changes everything.

It’s a good chance that tomorrow morning, I’m going to wake up and I’m going to forget what I said here and I’m going to live like it’s not true because I’m going to be pissed off and frustrated about something, not working, but it’s moments like this, where I get to hang out. I have conversations with a good friend and be reminded by the power of the Holy Spirit to know that we’re in this for the long haul, we’re in this for an eternal purpose. We are in his story. God has created us for and with an eternal purpose. Heaven is an industrious place and I want to be trusted well. That’s why I don’t quit. I pray our readers don’t quit either.

That is the place to end, I believe, and begin again the work that God has put in front of us. Chris, this has been awesome. I’m grateful for your heart, words and testimonies you’ve shared. I know that all of us as humans can relate to those experiences and what you shared. I know that it will be helpful for you and I. You sharing and me knowing and processing together, that’s beautiful. If people want to find out about your show or get in touch, where would you direct them to?

The website is You can find the show Win Today with Christopher Cook in every podcast platform. I’d say the most popular are Apple Podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio, YouTube and whichever podcast platform you use, I’m there.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet, leave him a rating and review. We know it won’t happen, but it wouldn’t be fun. Until next time brother. It’s been awesome.

You’re a good friend and I’m privileged to have this conversation. I want to say to your readers, Thane is the real deal. You’re the real deal. I’m enjoying your friendship over the 1.5 years. It has been fun and I want you to know that you’re doing good work and I believe in you wholeheartedly.

Thank you, Chris. It means a lot and I appreciate your brotherhood as well. Until next time.

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UAC 163 | Community Roles


More than anything else, what we need now in this world is unity and community. The question is what role can you play to help bring this unity about? In this episode Thane Marcus Ringler takes us back to a recent keynote, where he shared a story that illustrates the role of community in promoting individual and collective welfare. There is sheer power in bringing our unique gifts together in a collective effort towards growth and transformation. It’s time we show up and ask ourselves what we can do to contribute.

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”163: What Role Do I Have To Play”]

163: What Role Do I Have To Play

Have you been feeling a lack of hope lately or am I the only one? We all could use a little more hope. Hope is a spark that ignites our world, fuels our progress, and spurs us upward and onward, helping us stay the course. Hope is essential. Why does it feel like there is no hope? Why do we feel hopeless? What can we do about it? I believe hope is readily available to any and all who look for it, who strives to find it, who work towards embracing it? Hope is there if only we would search for it. If there was ever a time in my life that we needed hope, that time is now. This is why I wrote Catalysts For Hope. My hope for this book is that it can reignite your passion for life through renewed energy, optimism and empowered perspectives. We each had the ability to choose hope. It’s time we started doing it. You can get your very own copy by going to and signing up there. Here’s to hope.

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that takes living with intention in the tension. Life is filled with so many tensions and we believe the best way to live in the midst of those tensions is by infusing intentionality into all that we do or the reason why behind what we’re doing. We’re all in this process of becoming. Thank you for joining me and us on this process as Up And Comers in life. Hopefully, we’re a lifelong up and comers, lifelong learners. If you want more information about our show, we always are on the socials and online, @UpAndComersShow. Our website, If you want to reach us, send us an email, or reach out on socials. It’s going to be a solo episode.

Before we get there, I wanted to share a few reminders. You might have heard these before but if you haven’t done them, I would encourage you to take action. We could use your help in a lot of ways and they are simple ways. The first is leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or iTunes. We are sitting shy of 100. We’d love to get over that triple-digit mark so The Up and Comers Show can be found by more people. It’s a great way to help us spread the word. It takes about two minutes or as long as it took for me to tell you to go do it. If you could help us, that’ll be amazing. Sharing this episode or the show with your community, your friends, that’s an awesome way. It could be one person thinking of one person this episode could impact or encourage and then shooting them a text with a link.

Finally, if you want to support us financially, that would mean the world. We are on Patreon. There are different tiers where you can donate and that would be a great way to help us keep pushing this mission and show forward. We need your help. The full show notes for this episode are going to be at the Thank you for all of you who have been on this journey. I couldn’t imagine doing this for a few years. We’ve got 60,000 downloads now. It’s been a fun ride, so thank you for tuning in and joining me. I feel very honored that you’re here. I want to share my gratitude before I dive in. I wanted to share a talk I gave at an event. I thought it’d be useful to share on this platform as well. It was at a local co-working space called Green Spaces here in Denver and they’re doing a startup September month at the co-working space. It was a lot of fun to meet them. It’s been great getting to be there and work alongside with other people that are pursuing difficult things and working hard together. Check them out if you’re in Denver.

[bctt tweet=”A community is impossible without individuals playing their role within. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Without further ado, let me get into this talk that I gave. The title of the talk is What Role Do I Have To Play? A couple of years ago, I was in the midst of launching my first book. In the midst of launching a new book and then growing a budding speaking career, the number one thing that you tend to do more than anything else is networking. I’m trying to reach out and connect with as many types and places and people possible. Anybody and everyone who could possibly support my endeavors and provide a platform for me to speak, the more the merrier. I was reaching out to them. Through this period, I got connected with a guy named Brian Larrabee. Brian Larrabee is a tall, winky, white guy with some shaggy black hair, a little scruff and always has a smile on his face. He’s one of the most lovable guys you’ll ever meet. He wouldn’t know, but he played professionally in different basketball circuits across the country.

Brian Larrabee was who I got connected with. I was told that Brian had this mentoring group and he could have an opportunity for me to speak. I reached out, we got connected, and ended up meeting up in this trendy event in LA, which as you can expect, is in a back alley. That’s well done, so hipster looking, and all the things. I walk up to this table, there are two couples and their kids sitting at a table. I get introduced and start getting connected with Brian, his lovely wife, Allyssa, and their beautiful baby boy. As you might know, if you were talking to anybody at a table and there’s a baby or an infant present, you have about 50% of the conversation that you normally would have had.

It’s about 50% focused on you and the other 50% focused on keeping the baby alive. It’s difficult to have full-on conversations. That was the nature of this one. I have about 50% conversations with Brian, get to give my spiel a little bit, and talk about what I’m doing, what I love to do, and hear a little bit about his. He said, “I don’t have a place for you to speak necessarily, but I do this mentoring program and we’d love for you to come and check it out.” I left that conversation feeling a bit disappointed that it was about 50% of the conversation that I wanted. Feeling a little bit discouraged because it wasn’t this outlet or opportunity to speak and feeling a little bit skeptical, I didn’t think that this chance of mentoring or coming alongside high school students could be something helpful for me or them.

I was quite the knucklehead in high school and I thought that most high schoolers are arrogant, hardheaded, and rebellious like I was so what’s the point in being involved with them. That was how I came away from that initial meeting with Brian Larrabee. As I thought back on this story, it’s a common experience for most of us as humans. If we’re honest, we get into a thing because of what that thing can do in serving, protecting, or promoting our own interests. It’s from self-centered or self-promoting place. Most of us are often guilty of this and even if you ask my wife about this, you can find out that I’m still guilty of this almost every day.

UAC 163 | Community Roles

Community Roles: What we need most right now is unity and community, which go hand in hand.


It’s something that we easily fall into. If you think about what our communities, our relationships in life, these outlets, avenues, or communities bring, a lot of times they bring energy, optimism, resources, connections, collaborations. The relationships in our life, they bring community. If the set and setting around our lives or our daily interactions whether it’s our work, church, family, or neighborhood, if they’re oriented around community, then what does that mean for you and for me? The beautiful thing is that handful of things that were mentioned that these places and communities provide is that they aren’t possible without you playing a role in it. They aren’t possible without you playing and being an integral part of it. A community is impossible unless there are individuals within that are making it into a community.

If you look at this word ‘community,’ what does community mean? One of the origins of community is a Latin word ‘communis.’ Communis means common. It’s a group of people holding something in common. This could be intent, beliefs, resources, preferences, location or an activity. There’s a lot of things that it could be, but it’s simply something in common, a group of people holding something in common. The thing I like about the word community is that phonetically, it’s a mashup of two words, common and unity. Common-unity, community. It’s a group of people united, pursuing unity around a common thing. If you zoom out and look at our climate, our world, and culture that we live in, what do we need most right now?

It’s blatantly obvious that what we need most right now is unity and community, which go hand-in-hand. There’s a beautiful thing that our pastor said and on this topic. He said, “Unity is only possible through difference.” This is an important point because as a kid especially, I thought that the world would be such a better place if only everyone else talk like me, thought like me, acted like me, or even looked like me. If only they could be like me, the world would be a better place. This is a very childish, foolish, naive and ignorant thing to think, but how often do we still fall into that mode of thinking? I know I can. We all can and we all do in many ways.

The fault in this way of thinking is that if everyone was like me then we’d be united. That’s not the truth. What that saying is we would all be the same which is not unity. It’s uniformity. Uniformity is not unity. We should not be pursuing sameness. It’s not good to pursue sameness. It’s good to pursue unity which is only possible through difference. By bringing a group of people together whether it’s in your job, church, neighborhood, community, whatever community that is that you’re a part of your family, there’s inevitably going to be some similarities that you share. Some things that you hold in common but if we’re honest, there are way more differences than we share in common. There are way more things that are different about each individual apart from that community than is similar.

[bctt tweet=”Without difference, there would be no unity, only uniformity.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Every single person’s life experience is vastly different than the rest of ours. By that unique experience, we come in and bring a difference that’s important to a community and bringing unity. Back to Brian Larrabee. When I was walking into that school, APEX Academy, the first day of mentoring, it’s located right off of Hollywood Boulevard, a couple of blocks. It’s in the area of town if you’re not from Los Angeles. Hollywood isn’t necessarily what you think it is. It isn’t some glitzy glamorous place where all the movie stars go. It’s much more of a rougher area than it is as a glamorous area. I was walking into APEX Academy, which is one of four high schools on this campus in Hollywood. I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. Brian circles up all the mentors. We get to share a little bit about who we are, and what we’re doing.

He provides a framework. You can see we’re all a little sheepish and not knowing what’s going on or what to expect. After that little preparation, Brian throws into the classroom with a bunch of high schoolers. What I quickly began to realize was that what started out as a pursuit of my own interests, goals, ideas, or agenda turn into a realization that this environment had nothing to do with me. I was not the point of this environment, or should I have been. My role was simply to play an individual part of supporting, encouraging, and listening as an individual within a greater community. I had no idea that first day, when I walked into APEX Academy how much the next several years would shape my life, how it would grow me, encourage me, and expand my own views, perspectives and character as a person.

I know that they gave me way more than I could have ever given them. There’s a story and I thought I’d share because it points this out very fittingly. Brian, before each mentoring time together, would provide a leadership lesson. This was simply a framework for us to talk through the ideas with the students and each other. These particular days, leadership lesson was on gratitude. As Brian framed it, he said, “Gratitude is finding the good in any situation, in any time, in any place, in any scenario. There’s always some good to be found. There’s always an opportunity to find the good and that is the power of gratitude. That is what gratitude is.” This is a powerful lesson. I was excited to get into small groups and dive into it with the guys.

We broke into small groups, girl to girls, guys to guys. One of the students, we’ll name him Adam for this story. Adam was a natural-born leader. He was a student that all the kids looked up to, both men and women. He was one of the best players on the football team and had the biggest heart even if he’s a little rougher on the exterior, he had the biggest heart of gold. Adam was a little bit somber, a little downcast sustain. We weren’t sure why. We hadn’t heard from him yet but as we got in the small group, a couple of us opened up and then Adam decided to open up and share what was going on. He said the night before, his sister had been shot.

UAC 163 | Community Roles

Community Roles: We need spaces and places where we can unite around a common goal while bringing in our unique gifts together for the collective good.


She was in critical condition in the emergency room and they weren’t sure if she was going to live. He broke down and was crying. You could tell that he was very sad, emotional, upset, scared and angry. We sat there stunned. We were shocked. We didn’t know what to say. What do you say? Where is the good to be found in that? This was a situation or time when there wasn’t any good to be found. There wasn’t some gratitude to be sought after. All that we could do was sit there, listen, empathize, cry, and ultimately pray with him. That’s what he needed. That’s what we needed.

As I think about the time at Good City Mentors in the last several years being a part of it, I wonder how would it have been different if I had gotten what I initially wanted, if I had been able to pursue my own interests, ideas, or agenda instead of coming in and being a part of the greater community? I can guarantee that it wouldn’t have been life-changing for anyone there especially not for me. What is the point of all this? The point is this. We grow in community and in pursuing unity. Careers aren’t life-changing, but the community is.

What we need in this time more than any other is each other. We need spaces and places where we can unite around a common goal while bringing in our unique gifts together for the collective good. We need community and we need unity. The question I want to pose to you in this time together is, what role do I have to play? How can I bring unity in community? How can I pursue growth collectively as much as individually? How can I do that here in now in my local community, in my neighborhood, in my office, in my church, in my friendships, in my circle? Thank you.

This is Thane here following-up with one last thing to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering, or even some sermons I’m enjoying, InThane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the very next one. Each edition of InThane is released the first Sunday of the month. Again, this is a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.

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UAC 162 | Hope For Depression


We are no better than anyone else, but we have an individual calling and gifting, which makes us unique and different than everyone else. For Ben Courson, that calling is to ignite God’s hope in the hearts of his listeners. Hope is essential. It is a spark that ignites our world, fuels our progress, and spurs us upward and onward, helping us stay the course. On today’s podcast, Ben joins Thane Marcus Ringler to share how, stemming from his own bout with suicide and depression, he is pursuing his purpose of helping people rise out of despair. Ben is a bestselling author, a TV and radio personality, an international speaker, the Founder of Hope Generation, and the senior pastor at Applegate Christian Fellowship.

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162: Ben Courson: Flirting With Darkness: Hope For Depression, Pursuing Your Purpose, And Being Unabashedly Yourself

This is a show about learning how to live a good life. We believe that takes living with intention in the tension. A catchy mantra that means we live with intentionality infusing a reason why into all that we’re doing that is this show and that is what we are about. Thank you for being a fellow Up and Comers on this journey because we’re all in the process of becoming. We’re excited to share with you a new interview. Before I get there, I want to remind you that you have a few ways to help us out and keep this show going. If you’ve enjoyed this show, if you’ve benefited from it, if you’ve gained insight or wisdom or it’s been an encouragement in some way, we would love to have you give back and support us. There are three easy ways to do that.

The first is leaving us a rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. We’ve got almost 100 ratings, which is cool. I’m going to read a review by the person’s name is Rockhard543 saying, “What an amazing show, such topical and thought-provoking interviews that always leave me inspired to do better. Thane has such an excellent interview style. After each show, I feel as though I’ve learned so much about many interesting perspectives of various topics that it always makes me wish I had time to read all over again. Love, love.” Thank you for that sweet message and those kind words. I appreciate it. I’m trying to do my best and to hear affirmation is always encouraging.

If you want yours read on air, go leave one now. That’s an easy, painless one-minute task that can help us out. Another great way is simply sharing this episode either on the socials, you can tag us @UpAndComersShow, or sending a text to a couple of friends that came to mind when you’re reading to this interview and said, “That could benefit or encourage or impact this person.” It’s going to be meaningful and they’re going to appreciate hearing from you. Lastly, a great way to support us is financially. If you are able to financially support us at this time, it would mean the world. We do have a Patreon account where we have a bunch of different membership levels that you can sign up for monthly donations anywhere from being our teammate for $2 a month, buying us a coffee, buying us a meal, or helping us pay the bills. All of these are different tiers of investment that would help us keep this community going.

Go over to and type in The Up & Comers Show or you can go to Lastly, if you have a business and you’d like to partner, definitely reach out to us by email at We’re always looking for partners that align with our message. Reach out now. After the lengthy housekeeping, it is time to talk about this episode. This episode is featuring Ben Courson. Who is Ben? He is a bestselling author, a TV and radio personality, an international speaker, Founder of Hope Generation, and the senior pastor at Applegate Christian Fellowship. He has been featured on Fox, Hallmark Channel, TBN, ABC Family, and other mainstream media outlets. His TV show is broadcasted in 180 countries and his national radio show airs on over 400 stations.

He travels the globe, speaking of God’s hope and igniting revival in the hearts of his audiences. Stemming from his own bout with suicide and depression, Ben created Hope Generation aiming to help those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts to those who’ve lost hope and meaning amid their success. The ministry is shouting about the God of hope from the mountaintops to help people rise out of despair. Hope Generation is a play word that’s both a personal and collective appeal generating hope in God and building a generation of hope. That is a mission of Hope Generation. This was such a fun interview and such a fun time with Ben. I feel akin to him. He is an incredible speaker. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the skill he’s developed over the hours and hours of time he spent. I think of him as a King of the one-liners.

If there’s a catchy one-liner phrase, it will come from him. If you listen to him at any interview he does or sermon he gives, he has a million one-liners, and they’re catchy and memorable which makes it easier to learn as you listen. In this conversation, we covered a lot of things especially facing suicidal depression for ten years and his journey with that. We talk about mental health in our current society, ways to overcome depression, throwing yourself into your craft and purpose, the 10,000-hour rule, social media, and the challenge that brings, suffering well, filling the world with hope and so much more. He’s an inspiration and a guy that will get you pumped up a height man in many ways, but a deep intellect. You’re going to glean a lot from this conversation and interview. Please enjoy this conversation this interview with Ben Courson.

Up and Comers, have you been feeling a lack of hope lately or am I the only one? We all could use a little more hope. Hope is a spark that ignites our world fuels our progress and spurs us upward and onward helping us stay the course. Hope is essential. Why does it feel like there is no hope? Why do we feel hopeless? What can we do about it? I believe hope is readily available to any and all who look for it, who strive to find it, and who work towards embracing it. Hope is there if only we would search for it. If there was ever a time in my life that we needed hope, that time is now. This is why I wrote Catalysts For Hope. My hope for this book is that it can reignite your passion for life through renewed energy, optimism, and empowered perspectives. We each have the ability to choose hope. It’s time we start doing it. You can get your own copy by going to and signing up there. Here’s to hope.

Ben Courson, welcome to the show.

UAC 162 | Hope For Depression

Flirting with Darkness: Building Hop in the Face of Depression


Thane, you’re a legend. I’m glad we’re finally hanging out through shows, but hanging out nonetheless.

For context for people, when I was preparing for this, I knew the level of energy that you were going to be bringing. I went across the street to the local cafe steam and picked up another cup of coffee because I’m like, “I need a level up to match Ben.”

I don’t drink coffee. I’ve never had alcohol. A lot of my friends drink and there’s a debate among my friends like, “Would you go insane and have a ridiculous amount of energy, or would it have the opposite effect whether it’s not or coffee?” It would calm me down. I’ve only had coffee a few times in my life.

What was that experience like?

I hated the taste. I can drink it, but there’s no point. I know you get the acquired taste for a lot of people. I can’t get into it. This is the drink of choice, DASANI purified water, a gallon a day.

That’s such a great life choice right there. My wife has been on a big kick of a hundred ounces a day and that is a great goal. We do not drink enough water myself included. Kudos to you for that discipline. I want to hear before we dive into some more serious things. One of the things that a lot of people may not know is this addition to your life that’s named Fridge. How in the world did you land on the Fridge and tell people about it?

I can’t believe you’re bringing this up because Fridge got sick and he is leaving messes everywhere. He is going to the bathroom on everything. For somebody as obsessive-compulsive as I am, it’s gnarly. He’s an amazing cat. He’s a Persian cat. An abominable, alien-looking white fluff ball. He’s at the vet. I hope he gets better because I want him to feel healthy and I don’t want him leaving little Fridge packages everywhere. Like his name, he’s white, chill and eats all the time.

He is a container for food. He’s a fridge. I named him Fridge and I hope this isn’t offensive to any audience but I went on Google and I Googled fat kid names and I saw a Fridge on there and I knew. It wasn’t even like second-guessing. Do you remember the Fridge Perry from the Chicago Bears? He was 300 pounds running back. They put a lineman guy out running back and he plowed over everyone and scored touchdowns. That’s what Fridge is. He’s going to be one behemoth, mammoth creature, as he keeps eating, he eats nonstop. He’s going to be one fat little creature.

UAC 162 | Hope For Depression

In talking to some people in context for this conversation, to give people a little flavor of Ben, I often asked people how they describe the guest in two words, and here are some of the words they used: adventurously funny, ambitious, reckless, crazy, sandy and inspiring. The sandy has a sense of wise. That sounds like a good time and someone you want to hang out with, but if you had to highlight a few or one in particular, what is one of the wildest adventures or memories that were descriptive of yourself in these adventures?

One of them I’m doing is Navy SEAL training. I’m reading a book called Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. I’m also getting trained by Chad Williams. He was in SEAL Team One and SEAL Team Seven. He wrote a book called SEAL of God. I go to California almost every week and COVID brought me there because I live in Oregon. When I’m in California, we’re going to do another round of Navy SEAL training like 800 reps. You put a chain around your body while you’re doing pull-ups and weighted vest and Atlas tosses and like 3.5-hour crazy SEAL sessions. That has brought me joy. The opioid receptors are activated in your brain because of the endorphin release.

I would say one of the crazier things we’ve done is we explored the Matterhorn and did jump kicks at the Matterhorn in Switzerland. We did these flips off this dilapidated building into an ocean in the Mediterranean Sea in France. My friend stung by jellyfish. I was at a waterfall and the scorpion jumped on me. Me, my friends, Michael, and Cody who is a professional scooter rider and Gracie and another friend went up to these triple waterfalls in New Zealand. We’re surrounded by a forest of glow-worms. We’ve had some fun adventures. We’re about that.

What would you say is on the top of your hit list in adventures to come?

If you want to come, Thane, you are invited. I want to go to North Korea.

That is lofty to see.

I already have been talking with Chad the SEAL about going to North Korea. I don’t know if I can get in but I’m trying. I know somebody in DC who can hopefully validate and activate our passport to get in, but it’s the most dangerous country on earth. I want to skate North Korea and make a short film there.

When did this idea first pop up?

UAC 162 | Hope For Depression

A couple of years ago I had a dream at night that I was running through the jungles of North Korea and I loved it in my dream. It’s like inception planted in my subconscious. Years past, I read my cousin’s book about him being the first guy to surf the waves of Yemen during the war-torn Iraqi War. The most dangerous place in the Middle East that you could go to. He was surfing in Yemen. I texted him about this and I’m like, “Do you want to go to North Korea?” He’s like, “Yes.” The question is if we can get in. I got serious about that after I read my cousin’s book about him doing something gnarly and I thought, “What’s the gnarliest thing you can do now? Where’s the most dangerous country on earth?” North Korea is the next goal. I don’t want to talk about the game about it. I love the doing, not the talking about it. I am trying to get in.

Hearing a little bit of the backstory here, even when you shared with the SEAL training I relate much with that. One of the things I love more than anything in life is fitness because of how it makes you feel and the energy it brings to life. Funny enough, I woke up and my left bicep for some reason was strained. I went to yoga with my wife which core power yoga can be intense on the sculpts. I got wrecked by it and I was sore. I was depressed because I’m like, “This means that I’m going to have a week where I can’t move. I can’t exercise. I can’t practice golf and I’ve got this tournamentI’m going to play.” I was reminded of how much life exercise brings. It’s awesome hearing you speak to that.

One of the things that a lot of people will hear one side of you and not necessarily recognize the other and one of the background interviews said is that most people don’t know how much of a lighthearted goofball you are. The opposite is true. A lot of people may know how lighthearted you are, but he was highlighting the pastoral side of you and how much you care and minister to people. On the other end, you have this lighthearted goofball side. You have these two roles that you facilitate through your life. How would you describe your personality within those roles and how it interplays in your daily life?

I don’t believe the universe is comprised of duality as much as infinite complexity, both metaphysically, astrophysics, and universally when you’re talking about whether it’s astrophysics or quantum mechanics. I believe things are complex. That’s why I studied the Enneagram. I’m a 3 and a 7 if you can do that which is driven in. I don’t necessarily always prescribe to the C. G. Jung, Myers-Briggs colors and numbers strain, because it’s a little reductionist. We’re complex beings and I’m intensely serious but I’m also crazy. I don’t think those two are antithetical antonyms. They can live in a symbiotic relationship. I’m serious about my mission, which is simply to give hope to the world that sometimes I get caught up in the intensity of that. I need to unwind and have nonsensical conversations with my friends.

I always love reading dead people and that’s intense whether it’s like a manual contour, John Walker, Thomas Aquinas, and books I’ve been tackling during quarantine, these heavy metaphysical books. When I’m with my friends, I don’t always want to get in deep existential navel-gazing conversations. It’s like a muscle I’m working it that then I want to have entirely nonsensical conversations about the stupidest, silliest, we’ll make up words. We’ll talk about the dumbest things because that empowers me to then go back and do the heavy lifting. That’s how I would identify as an ambivert mixture of introvert and extrovert. I get charged by both. I go back and forth like my cat, Fridge. That’s why I love him among other reasons. He likes to be with me, but then he likes to go off on his own.

The description that you gave I connect with that deeply because that is almost identical to how I operate as a human as well, which is fascinating. I am a 3 wing 4 but also relate highly with sevens. I also gain life from an extrovert and introvert. It’s fascinating to hear you give that breakdown. I resonate deeply. I think you do highlight the complexity of the world we live in and that’s what this show is all about. You are one of the most outspoken on is hope. If we go back to the earlier years of Ben, would you say that you’ve always had this multidimensional personality? Where do these character traits, this energy, and this drive or this desire come from for you?

We inherit 50% of our spiral DNA ladder from our dad and 50% of our mom. My dad is a serious student of the Bible. He has a little bit more of those puritanical predispositions. He’s an incredible Bible scholar. I inherited a lot of the serious mind-stuff from my dad. My mom is the most joyful, hopeful person I’ve ever met. I inherit a lot of the sacred optimism for my mom. That combination has a biological component to it. I also believe in neuroplasticity that through route and repetition, we can reframe our pain and retrain our brain to run its grooves in certain directions.

Over the years, I’ve been close to the statistic of struggling with suicidal depression for ten years. When I got healed from that, it became my passion and my zeal to then spread hope to the world. When you’re talking about Sputnik 5 with Russia and the Coronavirus, the COVID-19 vaccine, think if we didn’t find a vaccine for COVID-19, but we found this rare vegetable that if you eat it, you’ll never inherit it. You would shout the thing from the rooftops. You’d be like, “We found the panacea, and the cure-all. I’ve got to tell everybody about this.”

UAC 162 | Hope For Depression

I know more people have died from the Coronavirus than all the Americans combined that died during the Vietnam War, so that’s a lot of people. What people don’t always realize is that a study shows nearly half of Americans are reporting that the Coronavirus has impacted their mental health. Mental health is such an issue right now that once every 40 seconds, someone around the world will kill himself or herself. This is a disease. This is a pandemic. This is an epidemic. Suicide in 2017 was the second leading cause of death in my age group and I found this cure, this God of Hope that I then want to shout from the rooftops. That’s what curated my passion to spread hope to the world.

That’s powerful and such an internal motivator. When you talk about the suicidal depression that you had, when did this first start for you? What was this early experience of it like?

I was happy-go-lucky in high school, but I started teaching and preaching at a young age. In third grade, I gave my first sermon and at sixteen years old, I began traveling and speaking.

In third grade, your first sermon. What was this first sermon like?

Everybody was asking me. It was about Ezekiel Dry Bones. All I did was read this story. My uncle who’s a youth pastor asked me to teach that day to share a message and I shared the story of the Dry Bones. I read it and sat down. Maybe it’s the best Bible study I ever gave because I didn’t muddy it up with my commentary. It’s literate accuracy. I read the story. When I was sixteen years old, that’s when it became a regular habit for me to teach. I started a Bible study with my friends and started traveling outside of my home church to speak. At eighteen years old, I became a pastor at a megachurch. I was teaching people three times older than me and I was a senior in high school at the time. It was my senior year of high school when I left the happy-go-lucky life behind and started training to be a pastor and becoming a pastor that I started to get depressed because it felt like working at a funeral home for me.

I thought that in reading John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and some of the elder writings of Halcyon days of yore and religiosity that I had to be the super somber, serious sober, sane. I wanted to do handstands, play basketball and stuff. I thought I had to create this image and projected to the world that wasn’t true to who I was created cognitive dissonance was super unhappy. I started to stand in solidarity with Oliver Wendell Holmes, the American Supreme Court Justice, who said, “I might’ve entered the ministry of certain clergymen. I knew how it looked and acted like undertakers.” Robert Louis Stevenson is an author of Treasure Island. He went to church and wrote in his journal, “I went to church now and I’m not depressed.” He wrote it as if it was a miracle that you can go to church and not be depressed. Even Swinburne wrote, “Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean, the world has grown grey from thy breath.” Talking about Jesus like turning the world gray.

That’s what I felt ministry had become for me. I needed to be more serious or less energetic or be who the generation before me was because the church has been around for so long. That caused a lot of depression. I had big dreams and I had no way of seeing those come to fruition and the identity crisis of discovering who I was. All of those things manifested existential ontological despair and not knowing who I was.

I feel like that is universal in many ways. This idea that when we enter into space for the first time as a profession or some type of activity that we’re doing and for me, it was golf. You try to be something you’re not in order to fit what you think the mold should be or the expectations of the people around you or what the image you want to portray when we just need to be ourselves. That’s a hard dance especially when you’re new to any field, whether it be golf or pastoral or preaching ministry. Do you think that’s a common thing that people face?

UAC 162 | Hope For Depression

Ken Kesey wrote this book called One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In the book, the character rebels against the system, and in that case, it’s a mental hospital. He’s rebellious that they do a frontal lobotomy on him. They take away his ability to function and think because he had whipped the system over and over again by brazenly refusing to be what the establishment ordered. What happened is at the end of the book, the real climax of this classic anti-establishment novel is Ken Kesey writes, “The courage to be oneself is the bravest thing a person can do.” It’s also one of the rarest things. It’s nice when you hear on the Disney Channel, “Be yourself.” It sounds fluffy, but if you do that, there is no greater courage than the absolute bravery to be exactly who you are. That takes courage and bravery. It’s no longer a greeting card. It’s now your life’s bloody battle.

The reason why it takes much courage and we often don’t realize it is because you are risking the real you being rejected, not the fake you. If the fake you get rejected, then it’s like, “I’m more like this anyways. They don’t know me.” When you’re you, that’s when it gets risky and that’s where it takes more courage. It’s fascinating how this works.

Jim Carrey struggled with manic depression and people were shocked when he talked about being on Prozac. He talked about how he was trying to put forward this avatar to the world he called it where he was trying to project an image to the world that wasn’t who he was and that was his body telling him, “You’re not happy. You’re depressed. You’d have to stop playing this role.” That’s one of the chief causes of depression is trying to be somebody else. When Saul put his armor on David and David found it cumbersome and unwieldy, he said, “I’m going to go with my sling and my stone.” That’s when he slayed Goliath. When the King is putting his armor on you, you better wear it. If you want to win the battle, you better cast it off and take your sling and stone.

As you think about the journey of those ten plus years, what were the different phases of seasons or cycles of that depression like for you?

I would take my friend’s motorcycle and I didn’t have a license. I didn’t even know how to ride the full thing. I dirt bike to middle school and stuff, but I would ride it without a helmet super-fast, like flirting with death. I’d go up to one of the tallest buildings where I live and I would walk on the railing. It was like a makeshift lethal tight rope. I took up a knife one time to kill myself and fortunately God stayed my hand and during that season of time, I think what was oppressive about it is the future seems swallowed by an infinite gray.

I couldn’t see anything akin to a bolder tomorrow or a brighter horizon or a better future. All I saw was nothing but despair and the nihilistic, entropic, second law of thermodynamics. Everything is going from order to disorder and greater chaos. What helped me through that season and you’re going to relate to this how your personality is from what I’ve been able to tell is one of the saving things for me was something called the 10,000-hour rule.

In the 10,000-hour rule, Malcolm Gladwell lays this out in his book, Outliers: Chapter 2, but found that anybody who becomes world-class at a craft has to practice four hours a day, five days a week for ten years or eight hours a day, five days a week for five years. Practice it for 10,000 hours, whether you’re talking about hockey players, pianists, cellists, master criminals, fiction writers or whomever you’re talking about. You have to practice for 10,000 hours.

When the Beatles came to America on The Ed Sullivan Show with the British Invasion, everyone thought they were these mop-top boys from Liverpool at the X-Factor, when they had played more live shows than most bands do in their entire career before they ever came to the US. They were playing at a club that was run down in Hamburg, Germany, eight hours a night, and seven days a week. It was a brutal practice. They were terrible before that club but they were amazing by the time they left.

[bctt tweet=”Science is meant to be complementary and not contradictory to the Divine design. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]

That’s what one biographer says. When they come to America and they take the US by storm, and it’s called the British Invasion, it’s because they had already played more live shows the most minutes doing their whole career before they ever came to the US. I knew I had a calling. I knew I had a mission to write and to speak. Instead of crying, I found myself sweating and that was the cure. A lot of the cure to crying is to start sweating.

Instead of waiting for opportunities to roll up, I decided I’m going to roll up my sleeve. The classic phrase, “Faith can move mountains, but God sometimes wants to hand you a shovel.” That was it for me. Sweat is fat crying. I started to feel like, “This is hard. This is hell. This is Navy SEAL time. Let’s Navy SEAL Team Six, MI5 DEFCON won this thing.” I started practicing. I bought these three timers. I collected 11,073 hours in five years into the craft of communication, speaking, writing, studying and that was huge.

It gave me a purpose in the midst of the pain. I would say as a byproduct side note, by the way, for people who are reading this, if they’re struggling with depression, one of the best things you can do is throw yourself into a craft. Throw yourself into your purpose. Thane, I’m sure you have a lot of thoughts on this because you don’t just become a professional golfer and get the level of excellence that you achieve by crying that you’re not the level you want to be at.

That’s the way I phrase it is taking ownership and never settling. That’s the big rally cry that I’m all about. It’s the same principles at play but I’m curious is with that, there’s a lot of people reading that this is a real battle. I haven’t experienced it. I haven’t faced it personally. I can’t relate as well but for someone like you who has gone through a decade-plus of this experience, what are other practical things that you’ve found that are helpful for others, finding your purpose, throwing yourself into a craft that’s huge? Are there any others that you would give to people as tools to fight this?

There are times when it’s bad and you should not be ashamed to seek professional help. I have a therapist who was huge in getting me through this. I was the most skeptical person of psychology and psychiatry. I liked studying it by way of books, but as far as trusting it, I’m like Jean-Paul Sartre, an existentialist question, whether the subconscious even exists. We’re talking about this subconscious world that might be a figment of creative thinking and imagination.

At the bidding of my sister and her husband see this wonderful person and they’re healthy people are like, “You need to do this, Ben.” I got to the point where it felt like a demon from hell lit my brain from another world on fire with a lighter from the ’80s. The things of consciousness were my daily bread to the point where he was getting worse. A counselor who used talk therapy helped me through this. For some people that might look like SSRI. I know that’s a controversial thing, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. It might be antidepressants for some people.

Before I get into more practical stuff, in some cases, seeking professional help can be integral to healing. Paul didn’t heal people with his sweatbands and aprons in the book of Acts. He brought a doctor with him. We can amalgamate the homeopathy of the East with the pharmacology of the West. As far as some other practical things to do is bear walks. I would say that’s the biggest thing for me. I would go on these long walks and I didn’t know at the time why I knew that they were healing me. I’d go on these walks at night and talk to God. Later on, I found out that scientific research revealed that when you talk to God about your hopes, fears, and dreams, it has the same effect on your brain as therapy.

In fact, like neuro biologically what’s happening is when you pray to a loving God, your amygdala loses its power. You don’t have as much fear, anger, and stress. You develop richer, thicker, gray matter in your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain responsible for creative thinking. You get more blood flow to the anterior cingulate cortex, which gives you empathy and compassionate and warm and fuzzy feelings. You’re not going to put someone on your hit list. You put on your prayer list. You start to predict people and free yourself from the dungeon of bitterness. I love how God told Abraham to walk before me.

UAC 162 | Hope For Depression


What happens is you enlarge your hippocampus, which is your seat of memory. There’s stuff going on in your brain when you go on prayer walks and that was one of the biggest things like talking out loud about my hopes, fears, and dreams. Some people say, “What if I look crazy if I’m talking out loud while walking down the street?” My thing is, I go at night. I look like the schizophrenic person walking the streets and blend in or put a Bluetooth in your ear and it looks like you’re talking on the phone.

What I love about this is how much God’s design stacks up to man’s discoveries of God’s design, a.k.a. science. They’re not in competition there and it’s a complementation type of thing. It helps us understand the way that God’s designed us. It’s powerful when we start combining these perspectives and show that they meet in the middle.

Science is God’s footnotes for creation. The Bible tells us why and science tells us how. In fact, William of Ockham and Roger Bacon about 700 years ago invented science and they were Franciscan monks. They were friars. Christians invented the scientific method. The idea that we’re supposed to be at war with science is absurd. A lot of my work is devoted to science. I want to give a lot of messages about how science is meant to be complementary and not contradictory to divine design.

Before we move past this, I want to come back to what you mentioned with therapy. That’s something I think in the Christian world that’s often blacklisted which is completely hilarious and somewhat ironic. If you’re playing a sport, if I’m playing golf and I don’t try to go get help on my swing from a swing coach, is that wise, or is that foolish? There’s a little bit of both, but mainly it’s foolish because there’s a resource at my disposal that I’m not taking advantage of especially if I need help in that. We all need help. My wife and I talk about this are that we are pro premarital counseling, but after you get married, then you’re like, “You’re good.” It shouldn’t be, it should be the other way around. What is this with this stigma around therapy and counseling within the Christian world?

We have to debunk this myth that for some reason it’s evil to go to a counselor. I have no clue how people even biblically justify this. You could pull verses like empty philosophy from Colossian or something, but it is a stretch. What the Bible says, “It’s in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.” The more counselors I can have, the better and the safer I’ll be. This idea that there are some stigma or taboo effects in an accident attached to seeking therapy and counsel is utterly absurd. People do not realize how many of our credenda, creeds and mantras are built on the traditions of men, but not the laws of God.

Jesus had to confront the religious order of its day for doing that exact same thing. The reality is, counseling can be a good thing. I went to a psychiatrist before my present counselor and it did not help at all. When they’re quoting a book at you, it’s like Freud in Oedipus complex, Adlerian power grabs or Frankel’s logotherapy or Jungian dream analysis. I feel like a target. You’re quoting the book at me and he called me little Ben to do a Freudian Oedipus analysis in my situation, which I understand what he was doing. The problem is I’d read up on all this stuff and I’m like, “I could read this at a book.”

That’s why I’m a big fan of the talk cure because this is what the Bible says in Galatians, “Bury each other’s burdens and bear one another burdens.” My counselor currently loves God but what I didn’t need was more Band-Aid Bible verses. I studied the Bible since I was in my mother’s womb. I’m sure my dad was like preaching it. I was attending church in my mother’s womb. That talk cure is important and talking through things. It’s big and healing. I haven’t had to go to counsel or therapy in quite a while, relatively, but I’m not afraid to go back to it when it’s needed.

We all need to hear that more. I want to come back to what you brought up with Jesus’s ways versus religion and the church. I’m curious to hear more from you on that. Before we get there, you mentioned the 10,000-hour rule and your deep dive into your calling, which was to write and to speak, to become a communicator. I want to hear a little bit more about your process as you approach this. You had this goal of 10,000 hours. What was your process in pursuing that over those years?

[bctt tweet=”Pain either has the power to break you or make you unbreakable.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Before Billy Graham was preaching in stadiums, preach to alligators. That’s a true story. He was in Florida at Bob Jones College somewhere around eighteen years old. He didn’t have Crusade side stadiums to speak to so he started out preaching to alligators. Instead of waiting for an opportunity, I decided to focus on my ability. That’s where a lot of people get confused and depressed is, they’re waiting for an opportunity when instead you have a rare opportunity to hone your ability. That’s what you need to focus on. Not one or the door’s going to open up. No, if you do your work, you’ll never ultimately be out of it. If you’re faithful with the few things God puts before you, you’ll be entrusted with rulership over many cities.

I know Jesus was talking about the kingdom of heaven and the idea of justice and judgment, but the same is true even in this life. What it looked like for me is I’d take my timer and I’d walk and rehearse sermons. I memorize over and over again scriptures. Our most effective video on YouTube is me quoting scripture for almost seven minutes and going on a one-take walk, quoting scripture. That didn’t happen. People are like, “How do you memorize?” Everybody can do that. The Talmidim by 10 to 14 years old, these Jewish students in Jesus’s time would learn the entire Old Testament. How did they do that? It’s like when I was in middle school, all of my junior high friends knew all the lines, the Dumb and Dumber. You ask any twelve-year-old girl and they know all the lyrics.

Think about how many words we’re using to have this conversation. We are capable of profound memorization. We memorize different stuff. A lot of times, it’s who the social media influencers are. I didn’t have social media for you. I was the last one to the game. I got social media after the 10,000-hour rule, didn’t have any of that stuff. What I focused on is honing this craft and this ability. What that looked like is in the morning I would write. I would get up in the morning and start timing my writing. A lot of times, 2 to 3 hours of writing in the morning, I timed that, and then I would read. I’d make sure to read a minimum of 4 to 6 hours reading and writing every day. On top of that, I would give ten sermons a week to actual audiences are on the radio or whatever.

It’s sick that now we have a TV show and all this stuff, but it didn’t start that way. I cannot emphasize this enough for whoever’s reading, whatever your craft is, you say yes to the opportunities that everyone else is turning down. If you’re too big for the small things, you will be too small for the big thing. What I did is I remember speaking at a homeless shelter. To this day, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to speak out. I’m a twenty-something at the time with no experience and these homeless people are reading to me speak and they would criticize me while I was speaking. They would shout something while I was speaking. I can’t tell you how huge that was for me. Another hard thing was high school classes because high schoolers are not going to give you any fluff.

They’re not interested. They’ll put their head down while you’re talking in class because I don’t like teaching classes. I like high energy crowd situations, not like classrooms. I was doing the classroom. I remember I would speak sometimes at old folk’s place where I talk fast and you can imagine how hard that is for them to keep up with what I’m trying to do. I would go when the opportunity arose to go to another country and speak with a translator. That hones another part of your craft. Every time you say a sentence, you have to pause for a second and that changes your brain flow. You’re working different muscles in your craft. All of that was big.

You would be shocked by how much opportunity is at your fingertips. Whoever is reading, if you open your eyes, if you have eyes to see it and that’s what the process looked for me is I was accepting everything that everyone else didn’t want to do, that they turned down. Like little kids classes, I’ll do it. I want to hone every part of my craft. That was big. Not only for honing the craft, but there’s something beautiful about having control over something in your life. My craft was the one thing I could control. I couldn’t control a lot of other things, but you can control how hard you practice and that gave me a lot of joy.

To speak to the seven-minute video, I ended up watching that in some research. I was blown away by seven-plus minutes on a walk nonstop. That was the feat for anyone, even though it has come with a lot of work. I love how you highlighted that it doesn’t happen by chance and overnight, and then it takes a ton of dedication and hard work. I love saying yes to the opportunities as they come massively important. One of the things I want to hear a little bit more about before we leave this, because what’s coming out Flirting with Darkness, your newest book. I got to read through it and was encouraged by and I think it will encourage and speak to a lot of people, especially on this topic of depression. When you look at our current society and what we’re facing in our world, what do you see as external influences that are fueling this mental health epidemic?

Social media. That’s not my opinion. That’s what the research is telling us. It comes down to social media as being one of the chief factors. I could implement other things like we become as luxurious as a culture. I was skateboarding with some friends near Santa Barbara and we skated it into a homeless camp and they were watching Netflix in their tents. I’m like, “Only in America do homeless people have Netflix subscriptions.”

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Even if you’re suffering downward mobility in this free enterprise economic system, what’s happening is we live in such a luxuriant, affluent, opulent culture that we don’t have to fight to survive like previous generations. We don’t have a Vietnam, World War II, World War I and breadlines. I know our GDP fell by 32.9% economically, but those aren’t breadlines. We’re not there yet. Some of that luxurious quality has caused us to move out when we’re 45 playing World of Warcraft at our mom’s basement, eating Sour Patch Kid’s and Doritos.

Tying this into the 10,000-hour rule by the age of 21, the average American has 10,000 hours of practice into video games. We don’t know what to fight for because we’ve already seemingly won as a culture. The biggest thing is social media. It’s not that we compare ourselves with other people and it’s not that we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels. I can’t emphasize how important this is. It’s when we do it. It’s not that we compare, it’s that we compare at unfair intervals.

When am I watching somebody’s Instagram story? It’s when I’m stuck at a red light when I’m bored. When I feel a little lull due to homework and I’m watching your party and you’re doing the same to me. It’s when we’re watching the Instagram story. It’s changing our brain. We have an attention span that’s less than that of a goldfish. We plot our phone once every six minutes, 150 times per day. That’s why I can’t emphasize enough how important it is sometimes for your mental health, not to turn your phone on until later.

If you need to use your phone for other stuff, put it on airplane mode or do not disturb, or hopefully, you have an iPad or something where you don’t have to be seeing all these messages or social media alerts. What research has shown us scientifically is that when you hear the buzz of your phone, it has the same effect on your brain as gambling and here’s why. A dopamine loop is triggered in your brain. When you’re gambling, if you go to a casino and when you pull the machine levers, when you put a coin in, you don’t know if you’re going to win or if you’re going to lose. It’s the thrill, it’s the rush.

Like, “Is this a win? Is this a loss?” It’s addicting. The same thing happens when you hear the buzz of your phone. It’s the gambling mechanism because you don’t know if it’s a good text or a bad text, the nice comment or mean comment, a thumbs up or thumbs down on your video. It’s addictive and because of this, it’s causing our generation to become walking zombies. It’s zapping us of our joy because we compare. It’s zapping our focus and our concentration to bigger goals. It’s making us suck. We’re becoming softer so we don’t know how to handle life’s trials and tribulations when they come our way. Social media for me is a tool. It’s not something that I want to control. Social media has inaugurated a new advent that has never before been seen in human history and that is for the first time in the history of humanity, we gather as a mass crowd of people with no purpose.

It used to be when you would gather in a marketplace you would go to hear a speech, or you would go to see a play. This is the first time in human history where a mass group of people gathered together in a forum and we’re like, “We don’t have any purpose. We don’t have an objective.” We’re like, “What’s everybody else doing?” It’s aimless and it gives us a lack of a sense of direction or purpose in our lives. That is why sociologists tell us that social media is harming our mental health. I want to use it as a tool. It’s wonderful as a platform if you have a message, but it’s not something that you want to dictate your life.

One of the things that I’ve been framing for 1 to 2 years for myself is this idea of being a producer versus a consumer. Meaning like using it as a tool, you want to be a producer and use the platform for good, but I don’t want to be a consumer. I don’t want to spend my time consuming a bunch of things on social media that’s going to be detrimental to my life versus fueling my life. That’s a discipline because like you, me, or anyone else, we can all become addicted to this easily. They’re good at making it addictive. We have to have the discipline in place for that. We don’t want walking zombies and how do we do that? Its intentionality around social media is a massive factor like you said.

The knuckle-dragging nature of music, social media kids. I’m a Millennial and I’m saying that intentionality is key if you want more joy if you want to augment your hope levels.

[bctt tweet=”You are better off on your worst day with God than on your best day without God.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Speaking of hope, when I ask people about your superpowers, it’s not surprising that the two they bring up is confidence and hope. We heard the confidence side and that’s something that doesn’t happen by chance. There’s this drive that you’ve had, there’s this dedication and there are tons of hours put in that produces this inner confidence. It’s not ill-founded. Go watch that video and or hear you speak and everyone can tell that there are a refined skill and strength there. This hope side of it is a little bit more nuanced.

To highlight that when people hear you, it’s easy for others to assume, “This guy’s the teary joyful guy, the pump-up guy, the hype guy.” It seems like there’s fluff there, but behind the curtain behind the scenes, there has been immense pain and suffering that has formed that joy and that hope to where it’s not this voidless hope. It’s this deep hope. What role has suffering played in your life in producing this voice and drive of hope?

I got diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which isn’t normal PTSD. That’s the complex variety means you have multiple tragedies that hit your life in succession quickly that you didn’t process them. It starts building up and you’re lost. My sister died in a car accident. My brother died of cancer. My dad’s first wife died. I went through a romantic heartbreak after an eight-year relationship. I went through ten years of chronic depression and suicide ideation. I have a guy following me around in my speaking engagements and he will pick at me. He’s done it to my dad since I was a kid too and trying to destroy my family’s ministry.

My good friend, Jared killed himself. He’s a pastor in Riverside. I’m going to say something from a novel that I read that is going to sum it up, “Pain either has the power to break you or it is the power that makes you unbreakable. What it is, depends on who you are.” I know that’s a simple quote and I haven’t emphasized that on the media or anything yet. I know I’m long-winded in many subjects, but these few words are bought with the precious price. That’s the reality.

That’s why the SEAL training is important to me because you can either be a victim or you can callous over your victim mentality and you get hard as steel. Your soul is iron and that’s your option. It’s like either you’re going to be a victim or you’re going to become iron. That’s what I’ve chosen to be. Anybody can be cynical, skeptical, depressed and grumpy. It’s hard to continue to be a joyful leader, a heroic, stoic, a happy warrior. I want to be a happy warrior. That’s my calling in life.

It’s true and hard to earn. You have to fight to earn that. You’ve been through immense suffering and life is still the suffering for all of us at different times. When you look ahead like a future suffering hasn’t happened, how do you approach that now based on where you’ve been and what God’s brought you through? How do you walk through suffering well?

It’s always remembering that on my worst day with God, I’m better off than on my best day without God. I have weapons. I have a whole arsenal and I write about this in Flirting With Darkness. It is the whole middle section of the book. I call it 11 Weapons to Defeat the Dark Lord and Depression and I lay those out. One is endorphins. Another is prayer walks. One I call scripture scholar scuba gear and that’s delving deep into the scriptures. Another is own your oddness to know that having the courage to be who God made you be.

One is rewriting your story, realizing that God is the author of our faith and all of our days are written as Psalm 1:39. There are a lot of these weapons that I’ve laid out for myself and I use whatever weapon is necessary for this specific battle. I want to do reconnaissance to know my enemy. I don’t want to be ignorant of the devil’s devices. What is the dark Lord of depression? What weapon is he using on me so I can know what weapon to pick up to counteract that? That’s where I lay out those eleven weapons so I’m armed to the teeth prepared and ready to fight.

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I recommend people taking that up and reading that. It’s going to be helpful. That’s the bottom line. A substantial new position, which is becoming a senior pastor. This is something that I’ve heard you’ve talked about in your sermons. What you’ve shared is something that you never planned on and something you initially didn’t want. As God has arranged, aligned, directed, you have taken the role and here you are leading a church alongside being the leader and director of Hope Generation, traveling, speaking, writing and doing a lot. How do you approach this new season, this addition to an already full plate and what do you think God’s doing through you in that role?

As you get more successful in life, get more responsibility and you are overseeing more people, I never thought about this. You might tend to be micro managerial in your leadership style because you’re OCD. A lot of OCD people are successful. You’re obsessive about stuff. The more responsibility you get, the more you have to let go of your OCD side, or you will drive yourself and everyone else crazy. I love the Navy SEAL perfectionist side for myself where I have erred even in this transition of learning slowly, but surely is sometimes I’m too hard on my team and I project that onto other people.

What I have to remember is instead of getting mad at them, I need to walk through it patiently with them and help them move forward. The biggest thing for me is the delegation of teams. I cannot do everything on my own. If I’m going to be a healthy, strong, good leader, I cannot try to take on all this responsibility. I need to have trusted people in the right places and strategically delegate authority to different team members. For PR for my book, I trust the PR team. We’ve armed them with everything they need.

With the book cover, I know that they hired and I trusted them to do a good job with the book cover and then I would greenlight it if I liked it and I did. With Harvest House, the publishing company, that’s another team I work with. I talked to its vice president on a regular basis to make sure that all the books stuff’s going where it should. Then Applegate, we have different departments at Applegate. I work closely with my sister Christy. I run a lot of things through her and we do a JFK Bobby Kennedy thing where we as siblings run the church together in a lot of ways. We have this amazing administrator named Joe Strobel who makes the grounds look beautiful. There’s a staff of 40 people at Applegate. I can’t micromanage all of them. We have teams.

It then goes to Hope Generation. We have a TV producer, TV director, TV editor. This is the team I work with the closest, our Hope Gen administrator. I don’t always interact with everybody on every team. What I do is the opposite. I have one person from each team that will hone in on and focus on. We have our radio team and now I’m doing a show with TBN. I have my TBN team people that I work with, a YouTube team, and social media. All of this stuff is important and I’m learning this thing. I’m talking as I’m learning is that you can’t be micromanaging because, on top of all that, I’m still doing my hours. I’m still studying. I stopped to get a certain amount of time studying every day. I’d stop writing books. I travel. I live on the road. It’s important to let go of the micromanaging OCD on other people. Hold yourself to these high standards, but don’t be afraid to trust and delegate to team members who have proven themselves.

I love that piece of advice and that’s hard to do. In that process of learning how to do that well, what resources, whether books or people have you looked to gain maybe some of the toolkits or the know-how to help yourself in that process?

The Navy SEALs. They hold the secrets of wisdom. That’s where Paul used all these metaphorical warfare analogies, where he would say, “Endure hardship as a good soldier.” He says, “Those who are enlisted into the Army, they do not get entangled and this life to please their commanding officer.” Paul said Exodus 15:3, “Our God is a man of war.” Paul said, “The weapons of our warfare are mighty in God to the pulling down of strongholds and never softening culture to be a leader.” You have to have a catalyst mind. You have to have an iron soul. That disciplined leadership in a generation that lacks discipline is influential.

Have you ever heard of Kokoro?

[bctt tweet=”Don’t be afraid to trust and delegate to team members who have proven themselves. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]

No, I haven’t.

Speaking of bucket list items, this has been on my loose sleeve for years. I’m terrified of it. It’s Navy SEAL’s hell week for civilians. It’s a weekend. You need to pay about $1,600 to do it. You’re almost killing yourself for $1,600.

After North Korea, it wouldn’t get me fired.

I want to hear a few of your thoughts on the Church of Today and this is something that one of the background references thought would be fun to hear your perspective on. As we touched on briefly, often we assume that modern religion or modern Christianity is equivalent to the ways of Jesus. There are a lot of discrepancies that once we begin to understand this more, we start seeing. Being the head pastor or leading a church, what do you see as some of the discrepancies between modern Christianity and the ways of Jesus?

I think the biggest thing is putting on people and projecting on others a legalism that is birthed from the traditions of men. One of them is the phrase Christianity itself. The word Christian is used three times in the New Testament and they’re all in a negative context. Christians were initially labeled. They were called The Way or The Sect of the Nazarenes in the book of Acts. They were called Christians first at Antioch. It’s only three times in the Bible. It was a negative thing. They put a positive spin on it and made it into something beautiful. I’ll say something controversial and everyone can disagree with me. I gave a sermon on this, but I gave a message called Is Surrender Biblical. Let’s take the word surrender. That’s something that’s constantly used in the parlance of the church.

In the Bible, that’s not used as a positive thing it’s on the opposite, it does not surrender. It’s a fight, like keep fighting. This idea of even like, “I’m going to surrender to the Lord because that’s what the songs are always singing and that means it must be something Jesus taught.” I understand. We need to be noble Bereans from the book of Acts who are no better than the Athenians because when Paul preached, they sought the scriptures to see if these things that Paul was saying were untrue.

One of the things that I’m constantly trying to do is not live under the code or the creed that Orthodox Churchianity has painted into the 21st century because it’s in popular songs. These are the like, “Don’t drink, don’t shoot, don’t go with girls who do and that are Christianity.” That’s not what I see Jesus doing. The more we can get back to the radical nature of Jesus and the word radical comes from the Latin word radix, which means a root plant. Radical means returning to your roots. Remember that Jesus was crucified by the state as a rebel and a rebel of love, but a rebel than the less.

The inherent anti-establishment and bread in the nature of the Christ movement at the beginning is something that we’ve lost now where it’s become a lot more homogenized and a lot more palatable. The radical nature of the love of the New Testament, if we implemented that, all of our race problems would be solved. All of our cultural difficulties living with one another would be solved. Our ability to work with difficult people would be augmented and increased. Thinking for yourself and searching the scriptures. It’s not to judge people who use certain rhetoric or syntax or Christianese, not to judge anybody else, but to see how you’re going to live your life. Going more and more back to the original movement of Jesus will lead you to some interesting places.

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That’s a good recommendation. How do we return to the original movement of Jesus and the heart of what he was about? That does solve many of these “problems.” These things serve as big obstacles a lot of times for others to even want to pursue the way of Jesus. If it’s something that’s being a hindrance or an obstacle, then there’s a good chance that’s not the way of Jesus, because his way is attractive. It’s the best way.

Easy and light. I always tell people what Jesus said, “My yoke is easy. My burden is light.” If your walk with God is difficult and hard, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re trying to placate the vengeance of an angry tribal deity, you are doing it wrong. That’s what my dad always taught me in high school and my mom also modeled flawlessly is enjoy your walk with God. If I could say the biggest thing that religion and the message of Jesus where they contradict this day’s Churchianity and Jesus’ early movement is that walking with God isn’t enjoyable?

For Jesus, he promised his disciples three things that they would be constantly joyful, absurdly fearless, and perpetually in trouble. If you read the message of Jesus, it seems like this sums a lot of it up. You’re going to have joy and peace that no one can take from you. You’re going to be fearless. “Fear not,” he said but you’re going to be in perpetual trouble. That prepares you for it, but it’s fun. It’s enjoyable. If we can get back to that message, it will be a lot more adventurous.

Before we end, we got a few one-offs here that I always like to end with. The first is, what can you not imagine living without?

A book.

Speaking of books, what book or books have had the biggest impact on you?

It’s Traitor. It is a novel by Matthew Stover. It’s a Star Wars novel. It’s about a Jedi who gets thrown into a torture chamber and learns how to embrace the pain. My quote about pain was from that book.

If you could study one other person for an entire year, who would it be and why?

[bctt tweet=”Disciplined leadership in a generation that lacks discipline is influential. ” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Alexander the Great because he understood what it’s like to need to conquer the world.

Which of your current views or beliefs are most likely to be wrong?

This is where the confidence or cockiness comes in. My goal is in my life is I want to be open to being wrong, but at the same time, I hope we’re living true that we don’t feel that way.

What are you most proud of in your work or life thus far?

I would say the behind the scenes thing is the 10,000-hour rule. I would be throwing up and sick like right before I go up to speak because I was working my immune system do exhaustion on these airplanes and stuff. That’s one of those things that you’re by yourself and people don’t see it, but that was what the behind the scenes thing to get that amount of 11,073 hours and five years into one craft. That was the thing I’m most thankful that God helped me accomplish behind the scenes.

What question do you ask yourself the most?

Who are you and what are you doing here? 2,000 years ago, Rabbi Akiva, a renowned scholar took a wrong turn on the road on a foggy night and he ended up at a Roman military outpost and the guard called down to him, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” Rabbi said, “Say that again.” The guard said, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” He said, “How much are they paying you?” He said something like 30 to 90 denarius a week and he said, “I’ll pay you twice that amount of you come to my house every morning and ask me those two questions, “Who are you and What are you doing here?” Who are you? I’m a child of God. What are you doing here? You’re here to give the world hope and that’s what I work toward every day. Knowing that’s who I am and knowing that’s my mission.

To underscore that because it shows that you’re part of the collective, meaning you’re no better than anyone else, but you have an individual calling and gifting means you’re unique different than everyone else. Both of those things are exactly what God wants us to know every single day. The last question that we ask every guest is if you could send a morning text reminder to every Up and Comer out there, what would you say and why?

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Every morning I would say, “You will have nightmares. You will have dreams. You conquer your nightmares because of your dreams.”

Ben, thank you for coming on. This has been a blast. I appreciate your insights, your words, and your message. Where can people find out more from you and your book and all the things that are happening?

You can order Flirting With Darkness, type it into Amazon. Scroll down, you’ll see it there. All my stuff is at You can type in Hope Generation to anything like any social media, Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. We have over 500 videos on YouTube. That’s another place.

Until next time, Ben. Thanks for coming on and for being such a dealer of hope in the world.

I love you, Thane. You’re a boss, you’re a legend. You’re living it. You’re the real deal. Let’s keep giving hope to the world.

For all you reading, we hope you have an up and coming week because we are out.

If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from, whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to to sign up and you will be sure to receive the next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released on the first Sunday of the month. This is a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.

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About Ben Courson

UAC 162 | Hope For Depression

Ben Courson is a bestselling author, a TV and radio personality, an international speaker, founder of Hope Generation, and the senior pastor at Applegate Christian Fellowship. He has been featured on Fox, Hallmark Channel, TBN, ABC Family, and other mainstream media outlets. His TV show is broadcast in 180 countries, and his national radio show airs on over 400 stations. He travels the globe speaking of God’s hope and igniting revival in the hearts of his listeners.

Stemming from his own bout with suicide and depression, Ben created Hope generation, aiming to help those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts to those who’ve lost hope and meaning amid their success. The ministry is shouting about the God of Hope from the mountaintops to help people rise out of despair.

Ben’s high energy, humor, and deep Biblical understanding has impacted people from all walks of life. He sincerely shares his own struggles, heartbreak, being diagnosed with complex PTSD, and the devastating losses of his brother and sister. As a social media influencer, millions of YouTube subscribers have tuned in to watch and listen to Hope Generation. Ben is infiltrating old and new media alike and spreading God’s message of hope like fire.

Hope Generation is a play on words that suggests both a personal and collective appeal: Generating hope in God and building a generation of hope. That is the mission of Hope Generation.

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UAC 161 | Entrepreneurship


Working your way up in a company, especially a tech company, as a black woman can be very daunting, especially if you don’t have many examples to point to in terms of people who have been on the same professional journey as you. For Rovina Valashiya, the journey had her struggling with finding her identity and staying true to herself. Rovina is a Principal Product Manager at Amazon and has successfully launched businesses, both within the company and independently. Today, she joins Thane Marcus Ringler to share her journey through entrepreneurship, the challenges she faced climbing the corporate ladder, and how she shifted from a strong individual performer to a team leader.

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”161: Rovina Valashiya: Being The Only Is A Strength: A Woman’s Accelerated Journey Through Entrepreneurship And The Corporate Ladder”]

Rovina Valashiya: Being The Only Is A Strength: A Woman’s Accelerated Journey Through Entrepreneurship And The Corporate Ladder

This is a podcast all about learning how to live a good life, which we believe takes living with intention in the tension, a catchy phrase to say that life is filled with tensions we experience every day. We believe the best way to live in those tensions is by infusing intention into all that we do, a reason why behind what we’re doing. Thanks for being a part of this movement and this community, and being a fellow Up and Comer on the journey in the process of becoming. Hopefully, we can be lifelong learners, lifelong Up and Comers because that is the ultimate goal.

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I’m excited about this interview as I usually am. It’s an interview with Rovina Valashiya. She is passionate about business strategy, entrepreneurship and leadership. She enjoys an exciting career leading a product management team at Amazon and has successfully launched businesses both within the company and independently. In 2018, she received Amazon’s Just Do It Award from CEO, Jeff Bezos, for innovating on behalf of customers to build and launch Amazon Textures & Hues, an online shop for textured hair care. Her Amazon career began in 2012 with positions in retail, supply chain, and product management while also serving as the president of Amazon’s Black Employee Network.

She independently operates a Christian streetwear brand, Fiber Sole and authored Pray for Potatoes, which guides readers on a pursuit of professional success through biblical principles. Rovina studied at Washington University in St. Louis and holds an MBA from Olin business school and an undergraduate Finance degree. Outside of work, she is an avid snowboarder, basketball player, fan of live music, public speaker and explorer of the great outdoors. Connect with her on social media, @RovinaCiarra. Rovina is a phenomenal woman. She has an amazing story and a lot of helpful perspectives. She has had to adapt to so many environments and has learned a lot along the way about herself and about leading others well. This conversation was enjoyable.

We’re both threes on the Enneagram as you’ll find out. There’s a lot of symmetry and things that we connected on so I know you’re going to enjoy this conversation. We covered a lot of things, what being a good leader entails, the importance of being curious, asking good questions. She has some good questions, discovering your identity operating as if God was your CEO, her experience of race in America, holding space for others and so much more. You’d want to read this whole interview. It was well worth your time. Check out her work at Fiber Sole and Pray for Potatoes. Both are awesome. Without further ado, please enjoy this interview with Rovina Valashiya.

Rovina Valashiya, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much. I’m excited to get a chance to chat with you.

What is the origin of the last name?

I got married and my husband is from South Africa. It is his South African last name. I’m glad that it’s fairly phonetic when looking at it. I’m sure my parents are as they have to practice quite a bit. I’m getting used to it, but the V in my first name with the V in the last name creates a nice flow. I feel fortunate with that letter.

It does have a nice ring to it. When did you first pronounce the last name Valashiya?

It’s years ago. My husband and I met in 2016 through some mutual friends. It was pretty early in dating. I wanted to give it a try. I was like, “So Valashiya?” He goes, “Yeah, that’s pretty close.” When he said it, it wasn’t close at all. He was being nice. I’m like, “I got it.”

How did you guys first meet?

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I was traveling to Cape Town with a good friend of mine here in Seattle. One of my friends was in Seattle and is also from South Africa. It’s my best friend here and her husband. When chatting with them about my upcoming trip to Cape Town, her husband is like, “You can’t go to South Africa and only go to Cape Town. That’s like going to the US and only going to Times Square. You won’t get a sense of things.” I was like, “What do you suggest?” I was traveling with one other friend. He suggested we check out Johannesburg and was like, “I’ll connect you with some of my friends from law school to stay with while you’re there.” My now-husband, Zola, was my host, through my friend back then, which is pretty funny because the entire time I thought Zola was a woman because of the name. We only ever talked via WhatsApp chat. His WhatsApp photo was Chinese symbols or Mandarin. He had been working on Mandarin, which I didn’t know. The whole couple of months leading up to it, I thought Zola was this woman that was going to be hosting me.

When did you find out that he was a man?

When I saw him.

What went through your mind at that moment?

I told him, “I thought you were an Asian woman.” We were staying with him and his roommate. When we walked in, the roommate was a guy. He let us in and there was a samurai sword over their television. I’m now convinced that Zola has Asian heritage. I’m going to learn about that. Zola was still at work so he was home a little bit later. When he arrived, I was like, “You’re not an Asian woman. You need to fix your online brand.” That was one of our first two sentences exchanged.

What is his background with the Chinese either Mandarin or the samurai sword? What’s the context for that with him?

He loves languages and loves learning. He speaks seven languages. Every morning during COVID, he has his headphones in and is practicing his Mandarin. I don’t even know exactly where the interest came from, but one of my friends, they have a toddler and she’s learning at the same time. He likes to hang out and talk to Baby CC. He feels like she won’t judge his accent. He’s a language guy.

This show interviews mainly about you, not your husband. We’re going to get back on track here. I’m curious to hear what your experience of getting married in the midst of COVID and the pandemic has been because I too got married in March 2020 at the beginning of the outbreak. It was quite a wild ride.

First, congratulations to you guys. The wedding we ended up having was incredible. Everything landed the way it should, but the process was stressful. As a bride or the person getting married, you start off with this vision of your wedding. It very quickly becomes the biggest party you may ever plan in your life. I didn’t realize how big of a party it was going to be until I started planning my COVID wedding, which was 25 people in person, the rest was Livestream. We went from having this big empty warehouse where we were going to have a 150-person wedding plus reception to getting married in the chapel in our church.

It’s a 30-minute live stream ceremony. We had private family photos. I had about five family members come in town from Chicago, only one of my parents, only one of my three siblings. It was an occasion where I told everyone, “We’re getting married on June 19th, 2020 as we’ve always planned and we will make it so that you can participate however you feel comfortable, no worry from us.” As our wedding day started to approach, some of the COVID regulations started to lax. It wasn’t until two weeks before my wedding that I was able to make a hair appointment. I was able to book makeup. I was going to do it all myself. It was COVID. It ended up being small, intimate, but great that my grandmother and people were able to live stream, especially Zola’s family who are pretty much all are abroad and weren’t able to travel to the US.

It does help us become good at adapting and being flexible in an ever-changing world. Diving into a little bit of your story, one of the things I learned in some background research is that one of your superpowers that several people brought up identically is that you are very good at adapting to any type of environment. When you hear that, where do you see that adaptability? How do you see that being formed throughout your childhood or your life thus far? Would you agree that’s one of your strengths?

I don’t know what language I would put around it, but I agree when I hear you say that. The parts of my childhood that contribute to that are I was the third of four girls. You may think all sisters must be similar. We couldn’t have been more different growing up. I tested into a gifted nerdy kid school on the other side of town. I was often living in these different worlds. I went to school where I was nerdy, but everyone was nerdy. You weren’t even aware of your nerdiness. I went home where my older sisters were neighborhood cool kids and transfer some of that back to school. I’ve always been in this juxtaposition of worlds. I’m naturally curious about the people in them. Other kids or other adults even can shy away when they recognize those differences. I want to jump into the conversation. My desire to ask questions and get to know people overcome some of the insecurity in new environments. I’m able to feel more relaxed or figure out how to get comfortable a little bit faster.

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When would you say the first time was it when you realized that you were part of a nerdy school and your sisters were the cool kids on the block? What was that earliest experience where you were like, “I need to figure this out?”

I can think of early experiences. One of the ones that stand out to me probably is going to Sunday school. That might sound super minor. As I mentioned, I went to school about 30 minutes away from my house. I didn’t know a lot of neighborhood kids and Sunday school. Our church in our neighborhood was the neighborhood kids. I didn’t go to school with them. I didn’t know what they were talking about. I was not in the mix, but my older sisters were. One of my sisters, I pretended I was a grade older so that I could be in her same Sunday school class. She’s two years older than me, but I went for years pretending that we were one year apart so I could have her as my crutch moving through that space. I feel like I always had this one academic environment and then a very different social environment. It was interesting to me even though I felt I could out math or out quiz my sisters, I knew I needed them in other spaces. That’s one that stands out to me a lot because oftentimes other than that I was normally navigating things alone. For me, Sunday school was that one environment where I had someone that I could lean on to help me move through space.

When you look at the different environments you’ve had to adapt to, what do you see as some of the most ones that have taken you the longest to adapt to out of all the different places and spaces you’ve been?

Two stand out. The first one is the clearest to me and that was when I started college. I am the first person in my family to graduate college. I wasn’t the first to start though. For me, I attended Washington University in St. Louis. It’s a private university in the Midwest, but I came from a public high school in Chicago. It’s a very different school environment. I was used to being at the head of the class. There’s a clear way you study. There’s I knew the formula to do school well. It wasn’t until college where I’m a freshman. I’m away from home. I’m living in a dorm. I’m on a basketball team. College sports, when you’re a freshman, is a different level of earning your stripes happening.

In the classroom, test and learning is no longer as black and white. There wasn’t this clear answer to things. It was about reasoning, logic and building the story, telling the narrative. That first semester for me was hard. It was hard because I didn’t have my dad in my corner every day who was my ultimate height man in life. The other part was the formula I learned for school didn’t work anymore. I had to learn a new formula. Basketball was hard. The team was different. Everything was different. It was learning a new formula. That first semester was probably one of the hardest adjustments I’ve ever had. I’ve never in my life had acne other than that. I remember that Christmas break to be like that. I need to go to a dermatologist. I’m too stressed out. Something’s wrong with my skin. My whole body was reacting to all the changes.

Other than that, the second one, which is professionally. In my environment, I’m a product manager at Amazon, a principal product manager. I lead a PM team. As you work your way up in a company, especially a tech company as a black woman, I don’t have a lot of examples to point to in terms of people who have been on the same professional journey as me, who also looked me. There have been steps and people management is one of those steps where I initially felt like, “Can I not wear my Jordan ones anymore? Do I need to joke less? Do I need to start changing my personality in order to earn or receive immediate respect?” I’m grateful for mentors and candid conversations I’ve been able to have about that. I struggled with finding my identity as a team leader separate from being a strong individual contributor. It is very different. I was going through some mental gymnastics of how can I do that and still be true to myself.

It’s a helpful conversation because this is the natural progression that anybody who’s trying to work through a career will face in different degrees. Everyone’s scenario is different in that. Going from a strong individual performer to a team leader is a massive shift. What are the keys that you’ve found that have helped you transition into that?

One of the things is making sure you look at yourself as a leader and also as a human as two distinct buckets. Letting your team know both of those sides of you. We do a thing now in our team called cultural interest. When you meet someone, they tell you where they work, how long they’ve worked there and probably their title as their way to garner your respect. When we have new hires and are welcoming people on the team, we don’t mention those things. It’s like, “Let’s talk about what has shaped you culturally.” That is to whatever degree you feel comfortable. I have a cultural introduction that I give to my new hires and then we practice it. The broader team is very used to it. That’s one of those things. It’s a little bit more personal out of the gate because you need that human connection. For me, the harder thing was establishing the leader persona because I’m personable and jokester casual. Also making sure people on my team understand the expectations and giving feedback when people need either specific coaching or guidance and not letting my friendly attitude take away from the serious nature of performance.

What would you say in establishing the leader persona in your work and experience in that, what makes a good leader in your perspective?

The goals are clear. People on your team should know what your top priorities are and how each one of their responsibilities ladders up to those priorities. That’s one of the key things I do at the start of the year is around goal setting. I have my sets of goals that roll up to my leadership. I also take it a step farther and do one of those breakouts for each member of my team, “These are your primary goals, but these are some short deliverables that you should hit throughout the year. We can track to those and it feels people understand why they’re doing the work they’re doing and how they’ll be evaluated. When you have a leader that you feel you couldn’t make a decision without that person present, for me, that’s a problem. A good leader is someone who ensures that their team knows how decision making happens and people feel empowered because they are aware of priorities and they can take it and run.

In your time here now as a team leader, do you have any failures or times when you didn’t necessarily take the right path in leadership that was instrumental in learning these principles?

Yeah. I had a cool opportunity with work where I would say able to pitch a business idea to one of the leaders of the company and it was funded. He said, “Rovina, hire your team, build this thing and make it better than what we have right now. Ready, set, go.” I was super excited about that but also made some mistakes because it was a white space. I was going to get it dirty. A couple of things that came out of that, one, I hired friends or a couple, not the full team. That can create an interesting dynamic. The failure or the miss was not separating the friendship from the manager-employee.

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It got pretty casual around you missed that deadline, but you texted me about it. I had to start saying, “This is Friend Rovina. This is Manager Rovina.” That sounds elementary, but that ended up being how I needed to make distinctions just to own or the nature of the conversation. I realized everything had been so casual for six months. How could I now think it would be any different? It’s the same way this person texted me they weren’t going to get something done. I casually text them to ask them things. It was like, “I’m not following the appropriate boundaries from that human leader standpoint.” I feel that was one where I’m starting over again and in stages where I’ve had a chance to move to a new team and hire people. I try to keep the friendship limit a much higher level in those early days.

That’s something that I experienced as well in the coaching environment. I’m working one-on-one with people. I’ve worked with friends before and that’s one of the things where you have to like, “It is clear stuff of this is coaching. This is friendship. It’s a completely different relationship. You have to be clear about it.” Leaders are very clear in expectations and responsibilities. You have to set them. That’s something I’ve experienced as well. When you were talking about with the team building and how you describe cultural introductions. What is your cultural introduction?

I’m Rovina Valashiya, born and raised in Chicago on the Southside. I would describe myself as a city slicker. I’m an inner-city kid. I don’t even grass against my skin. I love high rises and fun shopping. I grew up as the third of four girls. I was raised by my single father. I attended a private university in the Midwest, Washington University in St. Louis. I grew up in a Baptist church before then and continued with the church during my college years. My first job after school was in Minneapolis. I spent the first 24-ish years of my life in the Midwest, across those States before making a big leap moving to Seattle to the PNW. I didn’t know anyone when I moved to Seattle. I’ve had a chance to become an avid snowboarder, get involved in a local church here and have an opportunity to see myself thrive in a space where I was starting from scratch. I’ve always had teammates or classmates in every transition I’ve ever had before moving to Seattle on a random Wednesday in 2012. It’s been a fun ride since then.

It shows that you are practicing what you preach. I have many questions about that. First is you don’t have the feeling of grass against your skin. Tell me more.

I’m not super outdoorsy. It took me about 4 or 5 years in Seattle before I agreed to go on a hike. I love working out. HIIT training is my favorite. When people talk about hikes, I’m like, “You’re walking outside and convincing yourself that it’s a workout. I don’t even understand. That sounds something grandparents might be doing. Why are you doing this?” The grass of my skin thing. My college basketball team would play flag football intramurals in the offseason. I hated it because if you fall to the grass, you’re scraped. Grass makes my legs itch immediately. I told them that was a phrase I use with my teammates when I was a freshman to get out of intermural flag football. I said, “I would feel new grass on my skin.” I was roasted for four years about that statement. I only played at maybe 1 or 2 games and I would sit on the side, on top of a t-shirt and watch the games because I refuse to play.

Snowboarding is also one of my truest loves in life. How did you fall in love with snowboarding and give me a sales pitch for people who have never been?

The way I fell in love with snowboard in my first job, when I joined Amazon, I was our outdoor apparel buyer. I knew that I was going to the sports and outdoor team. I didn’t know which category I would be working on. I was looking at one of two positions, this one, which I ended up in, but the other one was the fan shop. That’s all the licensed material for MLB, NBA. I was more excited about that one upfront, but being on outdoor apparel, I was working with brands Columbia, Helly Hansen, Canada Goose, Outdoor Research, all those guys. You started learning about the gear and then every weekend in Seattle in the winter, people go up to the mountains. Every hour you drive outside, the city is bigger, better mountains.

I went every weekend with some coworkers or a collection of coworkers. I have an SUV because everyone from the Midwest has an SUV. That made me popular for road trips to the mountain. In one season, I rented for the first week. By week three, I bought all my own gear because renting was no longer reasonable. At the end of that season, I ended up snowboarding my first black, from green to black in one season. Although black, I was tricked. I didn’t know that those were the only options off the chair. We went up on a chair. There were only two ways down and they were both black so I was pretty nervous. I made it. My sales pitch for people who haven’t snowboarded, they’re not a cooler sound or feeling. I don’t even listen to music during snowboarding. I want to hear the snow. It’s so peaceful. Being up on a mountain is beautiful. Your cell phone doesn’t work, which is an appreciative experience for our time. It’s so beautiful up there.

Every time I’m up there, it brings life to my soul. There’s a pure childlike joy that you get.

It’s over by 3:00. It’s made for the early riser, which is me. It’s a well-designed sport.

Do you and your husband share the early riser?

He rises even earlier than me. He can run off of five hours of sleep. He stays up late and gets up at the same time as me. At about 10:00, I am lights out. I’m like, “I don’t understand why you want to start a TV show. It’s 10:30.”

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Before we get into some other avenues, I want to come back to a couple of things we talked about earlier, the first would be your personal identity versus adapting. As you’ve mentioned, you had to figure out how to adapt and fit in with different environments, starting at a young age. In the midst of that journey, there’s also the figuring out of who we are as a personal identity and what you even described as going from a strong individual performer to a team leader. There are this dance and this tension between not losing myself, but also fitting the role that I need to play. How do you go about living in the midst of that tension? What are helpful questions to ask or perspectives to hold in embracing it?

The way for me that I’ve been able to figure out how to balance all those things is I want to make sure I’m a consistent person. This connects a lot to my faith as well. If my friends on the weekend see me with my church friends or vice versa, would there be any concerns, any consistencies in my character? That was something early-twenties Rovina would have had a much different response than I do now. I had to proactively do that. One of the ways you get there personally is by committing to yourself to be a consistent person. That has helped me the part of how it’s a little more unique professionally in terms of not losing yourself.

What’s interesting about that is everyone is constantly on this identity journey. I was jokingly talking with a friend saying, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” I’m a grownup, but growth is constantly happening. This evolution of your true self, it continues to change over time as long as you are focusing on trying to highlight the right areas of your life, improvement in the right areas, and staying connected. For me, the faith runs so closely with all the other lines that move through for this reason because growth is constant. The only constant thing we can count on is change. That is within us as well as the world around us. You have to have this understanding of I will evolve and let me make sure this evolution is for the better each time.

The two constants are always growth and decay and both have ultimately changed. Hopefully, we’re in the growth as much as possible, but it’s a constant seesaw a lot of times. When you look at your identity journey, what do you see as the phase that you are in or moving into that journey? How would you describe that?

In my personal journey, the phase I’m in right now, in my personal life as we mentioned, getting married, I have to start figuring out like family. What does that look when you’re not an independent person in terms of my decision making? There’s now someone who shares a part in all my decisions moving forward and I would expect to share and take part in his decisions. Making that space to go from being independent, I’ve lived alone for ten years before getting married. A lot of that independence, you’re joining us one. You’re recreating or reestablishing what normal is and how your household will run in those things. For me, that is the biggest transition happening. That’s the biggest one. There’s always a professional one, but that’s the one that’s most prominent to me right now.

I relate a lot to that as well. Would you say that has been easier or harder than you expected?

It’s easier. I’ve learned some very interesting things about myself. I’m pretty social. I’m extroverted, which COVID has revealed that to me. I used to describe myself as an extroverted introvert or introverted extrovert mostly because I didn’t want to accept either label. I chose them both, but now I will accept an extrovert, although I do to be alone at times and I always could do that before. Now that it’s not and we’re always here, I have to express when I want to be alone. It’s like, “Is that going to be offensive? How do I say that?” I didn’t even realize it was a need I had until it was gone. I was like, “Something’s off balance.” The living together part has been pretty fun and easy, but I have started to notice things about myself and my own personality that have always been there, but I haven’t had to label it.

You haven’t had to be consciously aware of it. That’s the thing that I’ve realized. You’re living with a mirror, someone to reflect who you are back onto you. You see yourself more clearly and that can be encouraging and discouraging in many different ways. It is a dance and adjustment, which is so beautiful. Are you familiar with the Enneagram? If so, what number are you?

Yes, I am a strong three, achiever.

We share that. What is your husband?

He’s five. Speaking of this, when we learned this, we were still dating when we took Enneagram. We were like, “This is the most perfect language for us.” I moved fast pace. He likes all the information before he does something. There’s this perception of haste that he has about me. A perception of inaction that I have about him. While he’s thinking about it, that thinking could take what feels forever, where I’m like, “Let’s start giving something a try. If it doesn’t work, switch to B. Let’s get going.” Haste and inaction, that’s our spectrum for each other.

My wife’s a one, but it’s a very similar experience in that. I’m like, “I think we like this. Let’s move forward with it.” She’s like, “We don’t even make a decision right now.” I’m like, “It feels right. I feel bad waiting. I’m going to forget it. We make up all these excuses but I’m like, “Thane, slow down.”

[bctt tweet=”The only constant thing we can count on is change, which is within us and the world around us.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

I appreciate the patience that he’s bringing into my lifestyle in many areas.

You’ve mentioned a couple of times, your faith in the role of plays. I love it even in what you describe in your work. It might be on your website you say, “I share in many formats, strategies and practical tools to improve preparation and productivity as business leaders. These are philosophies that can be adapted to any stage of your career and are rooted in biblical principles.” When you frame your work, your business and what you share being rooted in biblical principles and your faith, being a center to that, how would you describe or explain the reason and the impact of that?

The reason is clear. I’ve always been an accelerated person. I finished a dual degree in three years and went straight to my MBA. I was 23 years old telling people I was a master at business. I had only ever worked for three months one summer. I’ve always been the upsell kid and trying to make waves and make the climb. What I’ve learned early through that pitch process is no role or no company, nothing feels satisfying, no pay increase. You immediately want the next one. There’s this constant thirst on the climb. I was in a conversation with a friend years ago and the conversation that came up and what led me to have this frame of thought is if you operate with God as your CEO, how different of an employee are you knowing that you’re working under a leader who can’t fail? Therefore, your op your obligation is to not quit. That changed my response to when work was going well, when work wasn’t going well, it changed how I prepare for meetings. A lot of my approach, the way I let work impact me and the way I let goal-seeking impact me changed a lot from that vision of if God is my CEO, how different of an employee am I?

I love how you framed it too. You said that the way you let work impacts you. That’s a necessary first step that so often isn’t taken and that is taking ownership of saying, “I’m the one letting this impact me.” What do you think keeps people, including ourselves, from taking ownership, from saying like, “I’m letting my work impact me in these ways?”

We often feel when we’re in the middle of it that things are happening to us. That’s the easiest way to accept your state. This happened to me or they did that to me. This one was my win, whatever the case may be, there’s this natural tendency to feel as though the Earth is moving and we’re caught in the wave.

One of the things that I’ve also read is a little bit about how you view church and faith differently. I’m curious to hear a little bit more about your own faith journey and how you describe the different phases or seasons or even depths of that journey.

I grew up the south side of Chicago in a Baptist Church. The pastor of our church lived two doors down from my grandmother. A lot of what I saw growing up were people in church practicing church, but I didn’t feel a lot of relationship or understanding. My view of the church was a thing you did at least one Sunday a month and checked it off the list, but I didn’t necessarily see the spiritual impact in people’s lives. When I was in college, I started going to church with a roommate who was from St. Louis. She had a local church. It was a church in a movie theater. They would perform on a stage like a band.

It was a rock show. I’m like, “What is this?” I started to get interested in worship and found my connection with church through worship, praise and worship. I never wanted to miss it. If it’s the first part of service, I guarantee, I’ll never be late. If I am, I’ll stay for the next service and make sure I get to worship. I understood I had a heart for that. It wasn’t until I moved to Seattle that I grew into my personal relationship with God. I’ll explain what was the very key window of life for me. I was living in Minneapolis. It was right before Seattle. I was about 23 or 24. My father is a Christian. We were debating something. I disagreed with him, but I didn’t know enough to back up why I disagreed. I needed the Bible to help me win the argument.

I told myself, “I’m going to read this myself because it’s going to arm me better in these arguments.” I started reading Proverbs because that seemed the easiest. My goal was to get enough Bible knowledge to have stronger arguments to defend my lifestyle to my father. This is the most honest story of it. That was the first time I was ever seeking to understand the Bible for myself. The outcomes, the things I walked away learning did not help me defend my lifestyle by the way.

It helped me understand that you can know God and you can get plugged into faith before you’re old. That’s what I always thought of before. During that little stint, that was when I was also moving to Seattle. I got plugged into the Christian faith. That’s where I go to church now. That was the first time I was around young adults who seemed normal. I had no problem talking about their faith life in addition to their work or whatever. For me, going to church has so many rules. There were things you didn’t say. There was knowledge you pretended not to have about the world vice versa. For me, it was the early twenties. I was trying to arm myself with biblical knowledge to defend doing what I want. The mid-twenties was when I said, “What could life look, if the Bible honestly says God wants us to live in abundant life, deal?” I’m claiming that I’m going to cash in so what’s my side of that deal. What does that mean I have to do it in exchange? It’s been a very twisted journey. No linear path. I stayed plugged into worship at my church bands. It’s all built upon each other over the years.

Every journey is twisted and turning. There’s no linear path. That’s the beauty of it. It does apply universally and that’s what’s so cool is that God can be that universal and personal at the same time. When did Pray for Potatoes enter into the picture? Give the context and then a description of what that is.

It was a Sunday after church. I was at lunch with a friend. This is one of the people that I suggested, but we were having brunch and talking about both very different. I’m business-oriented, et cetera. She’s creative also pastoral like Masters in theology. She can translate my words into where it’s rooted sometimes. It does good conversations, good friendship staff. What we were talking about was wanting to leave a legacy bigger than ourselves. What I was describing was, “My whole life I’ve wanted to be independent.” I studied finance in college not because I wanted to become an economist or anything like that. I was pursuing financial security. I was raised by a single dad.

UAC 161 | Entrepreneurship


I saw both of my older sisters into the world and then have to come back home and hit a reset. When I leave the house, I want it to be gone. I wanted to not come back. I had never done anything because I was interested in it. I was trying to have a strong foundation. I was sitting with my friend, I’ve been financially independent for over five years now, is this it, am I going to keep doing it? This is what I was living for. This was my highest vision at the time. There has to be more than this. She starts asking good questions. She’s like, “How did you get there?”

This is when we got into the ‘God is your CEO’ standpoint realizing like, “If you’re working for yourself, you succeed. Then what?” When I started writing, I didn’t have a plan. I started writing are actual biblical principles that I practice. It turned out to be seven of them, which is fine. I had no plan. I needed to get started. That’s probably a tip I have for anyone is you don’t need to see the end, get started. Maybe that’s the three in me also. It was the example I shared when I was 23, trying to pitch myself as a master in business. That was the first time that being an overachiever started to look a negative quality to the hierarchy. They’re like, “How can we take you seriously?” I don’t know the age of your readers, but it’s like Doogie Howser trying to be a doctor. Nobody can take that person seriously. I remember reading like there’s a scripture that talks about being lukewarm are the worst. God would rather spit you out if you are lukewarm, so be on fire or ice cold. That was my thought process for work. It was like, “My job is to be on fire. I’m the boiling water. I need to make it show that my atmosphere you feel it. When you interact with me, something is going to feel different because I will be boiling water.

That’s my commitment. I won’t show up. I won’t sign up for that thing. I can’t mentor that person or whatever it is. If I don’t feel on fire, boiling water about it, I’ve had to use that as a barometer for yes. I’m involved or no, I’m not. The other thing I have to do, no, I’m boiling water. It’s Pray for Potatoes into that space. Pray that hearts are softened for me. It was the first time where I was praying for the interviewer instead of myself before the interview. I used to pray for, let me say the right thing, let me do the right thing. Give me all the grace, thank you, God. It was my Amazon interviews where the first time that I prayed for the interviewer. I’m like, “God, I hope they’re coming in with a good mood and positive energy.” I started to feel I’ve brought all I can bring. I’m going to worry about what other people are bringing. Let me put my energy into believing that they’re going to be in the best condition possible to receive me.

What surprised you about the process of writing a book and what did you learn about yourself from it?

What I learned is I probably should have had a formula or some outline a little more structure when I got started. It makes me even look at books differently in general. I was like, “This is a part of a person.” Every book is a part of the person who wrote it. Pray for Potatoes is 100 pages. I’m a podcast listener, blog reader. I don’t read dense content. It is a book for me. I feel it’s so personal. I have a newfound respect for any book. I’m like, “That author decided to put a vulnerable part of themselves out there,” whether it is fantasy. It almost doesn’t matter the genre. It’s that person who took the time to believe this narrative is so important. They want to document it.

It’s beautiful how it does make you a better reader and it does change your perspective on books. That’s one of the greatest advantages in my opinion. The other thing that you started. I don’t know if it was before or after, but it was a company named Fiber Sole. I’d love to hear you share the story of that origin.

There was one year that was grind season for me. That year was 2017. I took the year off social media and that’s when I was launching a new business at Amazon. The business that I had a chance to pitch that launched in February of 2018. I was also working on side projects. Pray for Potatoes was one and Fiber Sole was the other. It was so interesting because I was so busy. Why did you choose one window to do everything? That’s the way my energy was flowing. I loved it. I work in the tech space. I mentioned I like to wear sneakers, preferably almost exclusively Nike sneakers. I like to wear t-shirts. If it’s an important day, I wear a blazer with my t-shirt to work. That’s like how you might know I have a big meeting. I was thinking about, why don’t I make my own t-shirts? It was that simple. If I did, what would it be? What would be a brand that I would be excited to represent me? Fiber Sole, I liked the name. I was trying to think creatively. I’m not a marketer-ish, but maybe I could be. It’s from the fibers of your head to the sole of your feet or fibers of your heart, the soul of your being. I play on those two things to say, “What I’ve recognized in my life is as I’ve become more into church hourly talking about faith, etc.”

I ended up in conversations with people who have questions that I never would have expected and in places. I could be at someone’s birthday party and someone will corner me. I remember I had someone jokingly call me “Deacon Brumfield” at a party once when I walked in. That same person was coming to me about a serious personal issue within weeks. What I learned was making people aware that you’re a space as an individual. You’re someone that is open to having these conversations about what we don’t understand, what we do understand around faith, spirituality, and how to think about living a Christian life.

Once people know you’re open to that conversation, those conversations flow in all kinds of environments. I remember having a manager who I didn’t know he married a PK and he saw me in one of my shirts and saying grace and truth. We had this whole conversation about how he married a pastor’s kid. We had this different understanding. We talked about Easter. Anyway, once you create these spaces, you end up in all sorts of conversations. For me, Fiber Sole was a way to say, “I want to speak life into myself by having words that are purely scriptural.” Not my interpretation, not a twist of the word, but actual scripture. I want to have it so that other people in this space know like, “Let’s open up these conversations. I’m open to it with you.”

Holding space for others is such a challenging dance in a sense. It’s nuanced. How do you approach holding space for other people to process important things in life, whether it be faith or challenging things you’re going through? What does that dance for you or what have you found helpful in that dance?

Holding space for other people can feel draining. It’s probably the first honest element of it. For me to feel I’m not getting exhausted by it, I try to make sure I’m getting filled at the same time. A part of that is you do have a responsibility to help other people. Sometimes that’s not always fun. After I do it, I feel great. A part of my yeses is remembering what it feels like afterward. I don’t always want to say yes immediately. I’m like, “This is going to be great when we cross this threshold and let me not be so concerned about my calendar that I am rejecting opportunities to get to know people or spread something.”

I do think there’s a little bit of giving that you have to be willing to do because the reward is on the backend. The other part about maybe protecting the space, if you do determine the dynamic is negative or I’ve had friends where it’s like, “Something about this friendship regularly rubs me the wrong way. We need to talk about it.” If that means it’s the end of this friendship, I’m to the point where I’m okay with that. I’ve had those types of conversations as well. Open yourself up to people, but also guard and protect your own spirit while you’re trying to navigate those relationships.

[bctt tweet=”Every book is a part of the person who wrote it.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

What you said shows the inherent tension in that those two opposites. It is such a dance. It’s similar to working out. There’s a lot of times where a HIIT workout is not fun at the moment. Most times it can be great and fun. Even this morning I was doing to work with some buddies and it was not fun. I was constantly saying, “I’m going to feel great after this. That’s the one reason why I’m still here.” It’s true in so many arenas including fitness. What you said too is beautiful in that we have to know ourselves well. We have to be self-aware enough to know when we have the energy and ability to hold space for others.

At the same time, we need to take space for ourselves to recoup some of that energy. I love my family and my wife so much. It came to a point in time where I needed some space. We were with each other for 3 or 4 days in a row and it wasn’t against anyone or anything. I was, “I needed to go be by myself for a couple of hours straight up.” Being able to recognize that is an important learned discipline in a lot of ways to help us hold space for others in those moments. One of the things you’ve also brought up that I’d love to hear more about was your childhood being raised by a single father. What role did your father play in your life? What impact did he leave on you? How did that experience shape you?

Probably everything you would want your kid to say about you. My Father, My Hero was a young author’s book I wrote when I was in eighth grade or sixth grade. I felt my dad did a couple of great things for me. One was teaching me how to dream. I could talk to him. I can give you a great example because it happened when I was on the phone with him. As a child, I could talk to him about any idea. He would feed me how to make it possible or be like, “Let’s go.” I wanted to paint it. He bought me an easel and acrylic paints. It wasn’t a question of why did I want to be a painter?

Did I want to? I had it. I went to a gifted school. I had to test it. It was probably 30, 40 minutes from my house, a very different neighborhood in terms of racial composition, etc. I was pretty nervous about that. I remember my father telling me to go be the Jackie Robinson of my classroom, which as a kid who loves sports, it felt awesome to me. Imagine, I’m six years old. What he explains to me is Jackie Robinson was so good that he opened the doors for others to feel like, “There’s talent out there or there are people that we need to take time getting to know, etc.” My dad always helped me understand that being the only was his strength.

I don’t think I understood how much that has carried me through other seasons. To be only, you have to reach this level of confidence where you say like, “Why not me and why not now?” Those were things that my dad was teaching me without saying. Older and reflecting it. You start to see your parents as human beings. I think of myself like, “At my age, my dad was raising three kids. I was already three and I look in my own life and I’m like, “Could I manage one child now?” You have this newfound appreciation for the fact that your parents were humans while raising you.

My dad gave me that vision and voice. He talks about this. He had daughters, all daughters, no sons. We didn’t talk about this until I was in college. He said one of the things he wanted to do was give his kids a voice. When we were younger, if we had an idea or an opinion, we could bring it up to him and have these conversations. He was okay engaging me in a dialogue. Even if I was presenting an argument that was terrible about why I shouldn’t have to do the dishes. He would sit there and reason with me. He told me one of the reasons he did that was, one because we were girls and he wanted us to never feel we needed to be silent because of that.

The other thing was, he said growing up for him being from the South, there’s a different level of respect between adults having conversation versus kids. He wanted to break that barrier down. He was proactively changing something that he grew up experiencing, which I thought was cool. I was like that was a very progressive style of parenting, which I didn’t know at the time. Reflecting on those things later, I’m like, “That was great.”

I love that ideal that your father of giving a voice and a vision that’s such a powerful thing for any parent to do for their children. It’s something that I would love to aspire to do if and when God blesses us with children. The other was being the only was a strength. I want to touch on this because right now we’ve seen a resurgence of focus on racial injustice and for good reason in our country. The question of how have you experienced race in America? What is your experience with race been in America?

I feel I’ve known I was black probably as much as I knew my gender. I don’t even know a time where I was not aware of. I can remember at age six. Somewhere between first and third grade, my elementary school in Chicago. This is the ‘90s for some foundation setting. My elementary school was in a suburb area called Mount Greenwood. We had a brand-new play playground built, but we also had a black principal that was new that year. It was a pretty big deal because this area is Chicago used to have KKK rallies. Our playground got tagged the night before the grand opening and it was essentially a hate crime. The wood chips from the bottom of the playground were moved onto the blacktop into the shape of a swastika.

There were all kinds of spray paint and stuff on the playground. For me, I’m impacted in a couple of ways. One, I knew the next day at school, everyone on the honor roll was going to get twenty extra minutes of recess on this new playground. My childhood like the kid in me is like, “Now, the playground is ruined.” The news and everyone’s at school and it’s very serious. I can remember my dad explaining to me what that symbol was on the wood chips. I had never seen that. I don’t think I even knew. It’s an X, not an X. I’m trying to explain this to my dad. We get into this conversation. Race in America has always been difficult for me and many others like me, but a part of it is blackness can often be treated like a currency where you can gain it or lose it.

I mentioned, I went to private school and now, I talked about skiing. All these things where it could feel I’m losing blackness by the way I talk. Sometimes that can feel like why is it that only our race is treated like a currency where you a white male, depending on your interest, you could gain blackness as a currency. That’s always been a very confusing thing for me to try to identify like, “How can I make sure I’m not losing my blackness?” That is a burden that you carry very early and probably forever. As I’ve grown up and gotten to meet and know more black people like me, I understand that this is not a monolithic community. The visual that gets pushed or the narrative that gets pushed shows you that there’s one way to be black.

When you deviate from those things, you are less of that. That’s the way race has impacted me in America. I’ve seen racism as early as elementary school. The other thing that stands out a lot to me on this is school and profession. It connects to the only narrative for me. The key thing that I’ve experienced is in order for me to be a black woman who has a Finance degree, there were three of us, but I had to learn how to adapt to other cultures. I remember learning to play Fantasy Football. These things may seem minor, but I don’t know the show Friends. I had to start watching this stuff so I could talk to my classmates.

UAC 161 | Entrepreneurship


In my actual career, by the time I’m in a room with peers, I may be the first black woman that they get a chance to know. I met my first close white friend when I was six. As I’m meeting people who aren’t like me, I’m trying to calibrate where are they between six-year-old me and now year-old me and their experience with a black person. I’m amazed that I may have coworkers and this happened to me. In Seattle town where someone is like, “You’re the first black person I’ve ever been able to get that deep with about X, Y and Z.” I’m like, “You’re in your mid-30s. How am I the first?” Constantly being aware and somewhat empathetic to the fact that although it has been so necessary for me to interact with other races to get to where I am, that is not the same way and the other direction. That learning curve has to be okay.

That’s one of the things. I did a Unity Series on this and we’re going to have some more coming out on that as well. One of the guys, Barry Moore talked about the concept of black privilege in, as he described it, learning both cultures versus as a white man. I’ve only had to learn one in that sense. He described it as a privilege. It’s much a harder path in that because you do have to learn both. Whereas now I’m being ignorant for so long, now I’m trying to educate and learn so that I can be able to see both perspectives and both experiences that are drastically different. Would you agree with that phrase and that idea?

I agree with that idea. I’ve never heard the phrase as clearly articulated and sound like that. I’m going to look into that and see if I fully lock-in. It’s so interesting to me how different experiences are for people that could be from the same neighborhood, but speak very differently. It’s how you grew up one block away from this person, but it is the household. I do think growing up in that dual culture can be an advantage in the long run as long as you have to have some level of self-awareness in order to not beat yourself up too much in either environment.

There’s a great book that I’ve been working through called Tell Me Who You Are. It’s written by two younger female authors. They took a year between high school and college to go from Anchorage to Charleston, asking people what their experience of race in America has been, which turned into them, telling them who they are ultimately. It’s an amazing book. I’d recommend it to people reading many different types of peoples from different places and their experience and how they’ve experienced race in America. It’s such a multifaceted thing. It’s not this monolithic reality. That’s helpful and it’s been insightful and eye-opening to me reading that. As you look at America now and where we’re at, are you encouraged or discouraged by where we are in a country as a country in this vein?

I feel encouraged. There are a few things that make this feel exciting. One is we are putting language into experiences. Whether they are conscious or unconscious that now we can describe and have conversations about. I can think of at work, we were talking about microaggressions and what are they? It was like then people were thinking, “I have experiences. I didn’t know what to call it.” As we look at race in America, a part of progress is awareness. It’s knowledge sharing. It’s recognizing that race exists, but it doesn’t have to be something you try to ignore in order to be above it or in order to not be racist, you don’t see race.

There have been these coined phrases in the past that make it so racism is a specific problem held and managed by a specific group of people either you’re racist or not. We have this new term around being anti-racist and starting to talk about what does allyship look? How do you speak up? How do you also pass the mic? What are the true dynamics of how a society looks when racism is eradicated? I feel these conversations have been very eye-opening for me with coworkers, friends and people from all generations, to my friends, parents, my parents the moment we’re in right now in America is we’ve at least called out the state. We’re giving language, resources and recommended actions around how to address these things in a way that feels more honest. Even the bad parts, at least there’s some honesty around it that I feel in my life has been absent. It’s been pretty easy for people to get away with ignoring or looking away where that has finally reached a point of fully unacceptable. Those tough conversations are now happening. They don’t always feel good, but I’m excited that we’re all acknowledging reality. I feel that is step one.

It can’t be overstated how important that is as a step. What’s cool is what you brought up is a throughline that we’ve ever seen in this entire conversation is seeing each other as humans. Even what you started out with that you’re building your team is let’s see each other as a human being here. That applies so well to what you shared. Do you have any encouragement that you would give specifically to white brothers and sisters and specifically then to black brothers and sisters at this time?

For white brothers and sisters, take a little bit of time to self-educate. Maybe I’ll put this together. Black brothers and sisters should be ready to sit in the conversation and it may feel repetitive or frustrating or shocking that this next person is at a stage that you expect them to be farther along in. My ask would be to sit there and be willing to disarm when having the conversation. What I would ask a white person is to self-educate, but then enter the conversation like acknowledging, I don’t know everything about this, but I want to learn. I want to hear. I want to know. Both people need to feel comfortable entering that conversation space. It’s going to require a little more maybe prep work for the white brothers and sisters. It’ll require a fair amount of patience, love and grace from the black brother and sister who’s reading.

One of the background calls mentioned was they’d love to hear from you, even though they said you wouldn’t maybe call yourself a feminist, but hearing your topic, hearing your thoughts on the topic of feminism, and even your experience as a woman trying to work up the corporate ladder and how challenging that often is. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on that.

First of all, that’s hilarious. You did talk to people who have known me for almost my whole life. I’ve had a hard time trying to describe myself as a feminist in the past. One of the reasons why I have difficulty with that is I do believe that the genders are uniquely designed to be different and complementary. There is an association with modern feminism. By modern I mean my generation’s conversations around feminism are like as, “He can do, she can do.” I don’t believe that to the fullest extent because biblically that’s not how we’re designed. A lot of my disagreement with feminism isn’t about equality. It’s about we are complementary genders as designed. Understanding that there is an order between a male and a female, it’s important.

That’s usually my gripe when talking about feminism with a lot of my friends. What they usually come back to and what I would say leads me to have a little bit of a softer understanding of it is thinking through the lens of professionally and in my own career. There has to be a push for a balance or an improved balance or that equality being even-handed, having proper representation, having a diverse set of leaders, and what does that look at all levels of an organization. Where I say feminism makes sense to me is around more around sharing the microphone and sharing the access. Much of the business world is who you know. You network your way into a lot of opportunities.

The good old boys club is a description because it has some merit there that has to be addressed professionally. For me, the more you look up in a company, the more I can understand why you need a strong enough group of women saying like, “This is not reflective of your customer base, the community, etc.” That’s where I can get behind feminism. That’s a term I’ve been in a lot of passionate debates about.

[bctt tweet=”So much of the business world is who you know; you network your way into a lot of opportunities.” username=”upandcomersshow”]

Rovina, this has been so much fun. I have a few one-offs here before we wrap this up. Going back to where we started with you being naturally curious and the importance of asking good questions, what are some of your favorite questions to ask?

Cultural intros are fun for me. One of the things is I don’t want to ask you where you grew up. I try to ask what places on the map would you consider yourself a local? That’s my fun way of trying to get a sense of where have you lived, or maybe you studied abroad and some area well. Where would you consider yourself a local on the map? Another question that I usually try to ask people and this is more my mentors or people that I’m trying to seek guidance from. What scared you the most about me getting your job tomorrow? I’m trying to understand what are the big decisions they make that they wonder about somebody new or someone more junior not having the capacity for that type of decision making. That’s my way of getting that. Where are you the most if I had to step into your job tomorrow?

The other one that I found interesting is I talked to a lot of business leaders and I try to understand their frame of reference is what year in the future are you most focused on right now? What I’ve learned is depending on either the more entrepreneurial the person is or the more senior they are within a company, they are thinking many years in advance. I remember it was 2017. I asked someone this question, a VP of a company. He said 2024 because that’s the year of so and so. I was thinking, “How many years is that from now? How old will I be?” We still haven’t reached what he was thinking about in 2017. This guy is seven years ahead. We went into why. I like to think about what year are you planning for? That’s a question I like to ask.

What do you want to do less often, more often and not at all?

Should I consider my life like COVID?

You can interpret however you’d like.

I want to do less TV watching, which didn’t use to be a problem and less cleaning. I have to find a better way to stay organized because we’re in the same space so much. I want to stay clean, but I want to clean the list. I want to do more reading. I’m very heavy into listening to podcasts. I enjoyed catching up on several episodes of Up and Comers, but I want to get into reading more. I’ve tried to set out this rule of one book a month. It’s not going great for the year. I’ll keep trying. I also want to do more creative cooking. That’s been a fun part of being married and being in quarantine is we make all our meals at home. I’ve started to get a little experimental and I’m liking it.

I want to try new recipes, more recipe experimenting. I want to do more being outside in the nice weather. The lack of vacations is sinking in. More time on the water and then none. I would to fully cancel all dishes, washing, loading, and unloading. It’s a never-ending task during COVID. I don’t think I ever understood the use of dishes the way I do now. I don’t even know how I’m going to deal with it post-quarantine. This has been a sad saga of always doing dishes. Maybe something that’s more useful. I don’t know if it’s no more, but a lot less driving. I mentioned my husband is from South Africa. He doesn’t have his license here yet. I’m always the driver. It is taking a toll, which is funny because I’ve always driven me around. Now that he’s here, I feel he should be driving me around. I don’t know why, but I would like a better balance of being the driver.

If you could study one other person for an entire year, who would it be and why?

I would study Beyoncé because Beyoncé, one, is a businesswoman but not natural. She had to hone and grow. I’d like to see what caliber she performs at. The other part that I find interesting, and for me why I wanted it to be a woman with a family, is that vision of how you balance being a mom and being a professional is one that I want my own little secret tunnel vision into to get any pro tips. I would be a plant in Beyonce’s house for a year. There’s nothing but the knowledge to be gained.

What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?

I would say The Power of Now. Maybe a lesson I want is called Shoe Dog. It’s the story of Nike written by Phil Knight who founded Nike. I found it pretty interesting because he journeys through decades with the company. I like to read business or nonfiction and quotes. He has this quote that’s like, “The losers never started and the quitters died along the way that leaves us.” Sometimes he’s brutally honest about the path to success is not quitting. What does that look like over the decades? It was cool to learn about the mind behind the brand.

UAC 161 | Entrepreneurship

Pray for Potatoes: Pursue Professional Success Through God’s Love

The last question that we ask every guest that comes on the show is if you could send a morning text reminder to every Up and Comer out there, what would you say and why in a daily text they get every morning from you?

I have a lot of ideas, but I don’t want it to be too long. I would say commit to being boiling water now. Pray for potatoes into your space. If any eggs come in, maybe they’ll crack.

Rovina, this has been a blast. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your life and experiences. Where’s the best place for people to find you or connect with you and reach out if they want to know more?

On social media, I’m primarily on Instagram. I hardly tweet, but I’m @RovinaCiarra. That’s the best way to find me. Other than that, LinkedIn is always a good way too if it’s more professional, but I will say I spend more time on Instagram than on LinkedIn. It’s up to you.

Rovina, thanks again for coming on. This has been a blast. I’m excited to see what the future holds as God keeps leading you and you keep growing.

Thank you so much. It’s been great. I appreciate it.

For all you reading, we hope you have an Up and Coming week because we are out.

Following up with one last thing to note, if you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from, whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening, to quotes I’m pondering or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the very next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released on the first Sunday of the month. This is a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.

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About Rovina Valashiya

UAC 161 | EntrepreneurshipRovina (Broomfield) Valashiya is passionate about business strategy, entrepreneurship, and leadership. She enjoys an exciting career leading a product management team at Amazon and has successfully launched businesses, both within the company and independently. In 2018, she received Amazon’s Just Do It Award from CEO, Jeff Bezos, for innovating on behalf of customers to build and launch Amazon Textures & Hues – an online shop for textured hair care.

Her Amazon career began in 2012 with positions in retail, supply chain, and product management, while also serving as the president of Amazon’s Black Employee Network (2016-2018). She independently operates a Christian streetwear brand, Fiber Sole, and authored Pray for Potatoes which guides readers on a pursuit of professional success through biblical principles.

Rovina studied at Washington University in St. Louis and holds an MBA from Olin Business School and an undergraduate Finance degree. Outside of work, she is an avid snowboarder and basketball player, fan of live music, public speaker and explorer of the great outdoors.

Connect with her on social media @rovinaciarra.

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UAC 160 | Vulnerability


Vulnerability is scary. We have evolved the tendency to protect ourselves at all cost from possible embarrassment and humiliation that we often shy away from revealing our innermost thoughts and feelings. But once you get past the fear and gain the courage to dig deep, you’ll find that vulnerability has something great in store for you. In this episode of Couch Conversations, Thane Marcus Ringler is joined once more by his lovely wife, Evan Ryan Ringler to trade thoughts and stories that demonstrate the power vulnerability. Thane and Ev practice what they preach, and their courage to become vulnerable is palpable in this conversation. Plus, learn about Ev’s new endeavor that she is extremely excited and vulnerable about. 

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”160: Couch Conversations With Evan Ryan Ringler: On Vulnerability And Ev’s New Endeavor”]

Couch Conversations With Evan Ryan Ringler: On Vulnerability And Ev’s New Endeavor

Have you been feeling a lack of hope or am I the only one? We all could use a little more hope. Hope is a spark that ignites our world, fuels our progress, and spurs us upward and onward helping us stay the course. Hope is essential. Why does it feel like there is no hope? Why do we feel hopeless? What can we do about it? I believe hope is readily available to any and all who look for it, who strives to find it, who works towards embracing it. Hope is there if only we would search for it. If there was ever a time in my life that we needed hope, that time is now. This is why I wrote Catalysts For Hope. My hope for this book is that it can reignite your passion for life through renewed energy, optimism and empowered perspectives. We each had the ability to choose hope. It’s time we started doing it. Catalysts For Hope drops on September 1st 2020. You can get your own copy by going to and signing up there. Here’s to hope.

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life, which we believe takes living with intentionality. We say living with intention in the tension because life has many tensions that we face on a daily basis. Thanks for tuning in for being a part of this movement, community or tribe, whatever you want to call it. We are here and we are doing it together one episode, one week and one day at a time. Thank you for being a part of it. If you wanted to do a couple of things that could help us out, there are several easy ways. The first is leaving us a rating and review on iTunes as an awesome way to help our show be found by more people. We’re almost a triple-digit. If you could push us over the edge, that would be helpful oApple PodcastsYou can also leave reviews on wherever you listen to them at. If you wanted to share our episode with a few friends or a family member, someone you thought of when you are reading itthat is another great way to help our spread our show and our message. 

Finally, if you want to support us financially, you can do so on Patreon where we have monthly donations available there. If you have a company and you’d like to partner with us, we are looking actively for partnerships. Email us at It’s a great way to spread the word for your business or for your work. Let us know and if you have any thoughts, comments, questions and concerns, you can always email us there. You can find us on the socials, @UpAndComersShow. Tag us, send us a shoutout. We are out here. That is housekeeping. I’m joined on the couch by my lovely wife, Evan. It’s good to be here. It’s been a long day. We’ve worked hard and rewarding ourselves with a show and some water. It’s the simple things in life and a beer after we’re going to walk down to Platt Park Brewery. They’re not our sponsor, but if they were, that would be awesome. We love them. What do you love most about them? 

It’s tasty. 

What does it taste like? 

It tastes like a Sour Watermelon Jolly Rancher. 

I was going to say it does. That’s how I described it. 

With sparkling water. 

[bctt tweet=”Vulnerability is the first thing we expect in others and the last thing we are willing to give. ” via=”no”]

It is a refreshing and enjoyable combo. We have dinner in the oven. My lovely wife has been killing the game in the kitchen. I’m a little jealous because this meal is a new creation, parm chicken orzo. She’s been outpacing me in the kitchen, so I need to step my game up. 

I beat you to it. We both love cooking. 

It’s fun. I mainly cook lunch and you mainly cook dinner, but we do help each other out on both ends. 

That’s one of our fave activities. 

We are going to chat a little bit about a few exciting updates and things we’re learning as we tend to do on these. We hope they’re helpful to you. It’s us sharing our lives with others in order to try and provide encouragement or maybe a few nuggets that can be taken into your own. One of the things that we’re going to talk about is vulnerability, which can be a scary subject. I’ve enjoyed hearing from you on this because there are a couple either things you’ve heard from other people, phrases or ways you put it that help us understand the importance and the benefit of vulnerability. What is that phrase? I don’t remember but I’ve heard you say it multiple times. 

UAC 160 | Vulnerability


I reference Brené for vulnerability. She has megaload of information on it. She maybe says this, “Vulnerability is the first thing we expect from someone else and the last thing we expect to give.” 

I love that because it resonates with any human being deep. It is hard for us to open that door but was it the sermon by Judah we were hearing? By podcasts, we’re hearing from a pastor, someone about small groups and how the first person likes to open up. It always takes one person to be real and be vulnerable, and then you see a slew of people follow. I was in her leadership training too. It’s funny how as humans, we wait for someone else to be vulnerable because we don’t want to take the dive in because it’s scary. No one may follow us. It’s risky. There are a lot of things that keep us from being vulnerable. 

That sermon was by Judah Smith and his metaphor was about how in small groups like, “We’re going to do the prayer requests thing.” I love this about guys. One guy will be like, “I’m going through this. This thing is hard.” He’s like, “Thing about guys, we won’t ask what it is.” We’re like, “That thing, that’s hard. We’ll pray for that.” It takes one person to say, “I’ve struggled with this.” Everyone else is like an outpouring of the soul. 

It’s often sexy to talk about leadership. We all want to be leaders, not all but a lot of people want to be good leaders like, “What does it mean to be a good leader? I want to be called a leader or I want to be looked at as a leader.” It’s not sexy. It’s usually scary. Being a leader means you’re the first one to admit you’re wrong, your flaws and the first one to be honest about the hard things that you’re experiencing right now. 

UAC 160 | Vulnerability


We’re considering helping to facilitate a small group at our church. One of the things that were said at our training that was good is, “If you want your group to go thereyou go there first.” That’s true for anything. That’s what you’re speaking on with leadership. As I’ve been thinking about what keeps us from being vulnerable, I’ve narrowed it to 2 or maybe spheres of one, it’s embarrassing. We have this narrative of, “I’m not that person. I want to be this person. This is the person I should be. I’m not going to share this because that takes away from that.” Sometimes it’s out of a good heart of, “I don’t want to be selfish and share or make this about me.” That’s what I’ve narrowed it down to, but I’d be curious if you have more thoughts on what keeps us from being vulnerable. 

Embarrassment, selflessness and the other is pride. That’s a huge one, and trying to be something we’re not. We all love an image and this ideal that we think we are or we view ourselves as, but the way we view ourselves is subjective. Even in marriage, I’ve been grateful that you helped me gain objectivity that I didn’t have before of myself. We will never get objectivity especially about ourselves if we’re not vulnerable. In a marriage, you don’t have to be vulnerable but for your marriage to be healthyyou have to be vulnerable. I’m grateful for thatdesigned by God in that. Pride is probably huge for menIt’s a combination of embarrassment and pride usually. You don’t want to be seen as weak. We don’t want to be the only one that’s flawed. We’re all flawed. These are these narratives that get stuck in our heads. 

We had one of our neighbors and his daughter over for dinner and talking about self-development, self-growth and why people shy away from it. A lot of the time, it’s because of this huge, scary endeavor. I don’t want to have to unpack child wounds. My challenge with being vulnerable to relate those feelings back to vulnerability, because we can put those same things on, “If I open up, that’s scary. I could be hurt.” It doesn’t have to be scary and Brené talks about that too of we can connect or connotate vulnerability with fear or disappointment, negative words. That vulnerability is the gateway to love, being understood, understanding, and it’s powerful. 

I’m thinking about my own journey in this and where I’ve struggled and had grown in. I almost think we have to be shocked out of our facade. We almost have to be broken of our facades that we can be vulnerable with others and that’s what the story is for meI had to be broken of this image I was pursuing. For a lot of my high school and college years, I was creating this image of what I wanted other people to see me as. 

Maybe building the container as Rohr says,First half of life. 

It happened again in college where everything exploded on me, and all of my double lives and double standard I’ve been living in different circles came out at the end of my junior year in college. That was a huge breaking point of this idea that if my testimony or the story of my life was to matter, then it needed to be honest. It needed to be real. There’s something to it and I think part of it even goes into love. We want to be loved and we create this image that we think other people will love when that’s the most fearful place to be is living a lie so that others can love you, versus living your true self and being loved for who you truly are. There’s nothing better than that, yet we chase it the wrong way. I know I did for so long. Since then, that idea of living with integrity has been compelling and helped me strive for this more than I ever used to. It’s a daily battle still, but being the person that I say I am and living with integrity. Vulnerability goes handin hand with integrity because you’re letting people in to see who you are. What are you going to say? 

A few things. They’ve escaped me but they’re coming back. I was going to share an example of vulnerability that happened to me. There’s something else I wanted to say about what you shared. Think about all these people that you most connect with, influencers or people you don’t even know and the people you know, the people that are in my life that are unapologetically themselves. I’ll speak for myself. I have that much more respect for them. I adore them that much more because they’re being them and they aren’t afraid to say, “I messed up here and this is what I learned from it. This is how I’ve grown from it or this is going on.” We’ve heard people shy away from being vulnerable because we can make excuses for it. As we’ve talked through this morewe’ve been seeing that we shy away from being vulnerable with excuses, “They don’t need to know that about me or my life, or I don’t want to be an open book for everyone.” There’s truth in that if you let your inner circle into your innermost parts. I agree that you don’t have to share your heart with everyone to the depths of your soul. 

[bctt tweet=”Vulnerability is the gateway to being understood. ” via=”no”]

That’s the sermon piece. That’s the piece that there’s the right time and the right place for sharing, and that doesn’t mean every person in every situation. If we are open to sharing, that’s what matters. We’ll know when the right time is, but if we’re never open to sharing those intimate pieces of our story. The one thing I would add to that is it doesn’t have to be someone in your inner circle. It could be maybe someone you met for coffee and something they shared where for some reason, the spirit sparks, this piece of your story in your mind you’re like, “This could be encouraging to them or helpful at this moment.” That’s also an important part of it is the posture of being willing. 

Try to be spiritled in, “I don’t want to share this, but God has prompted me to.” The other thing I would say is we’ve heard people say like, “I feel like everyone has this perception of me that I’m perfect.” If people have that perception, you’re not sharing. I don’t think they could hold that perspective of you if you’re sharing your struggles and hang-ups. All that to say, I’m proud of you for going there. 

I’m proud of you as well. Before you get to this example that I’m excited to hear and have you sharethe other thing to add is that a big part of why people don’t see a true version of others is because they’re basing their view of others on images or posts. That’s a danger of social media is to associate what you see in a virtual setting as who they are and all of that is interpreted. We’re interpreting all of that and it’s not even reallife person-to-person. It’s a check on us to be like, “I don’t want this to be influencing my view of this person. If it is in a negative way, then maybe I should not be consuming what they’re putting out there.” 

The second is like, “How can I strive to be as honest as possible in what I share or what I produce that’s true to me, to what I believe and what I think or who I am or what I’m going through?” It’s a double challenge for us in that. Speaking of vulnerability in your life, I’d love to also share a little context in that. This was a theme for you and we’ll share a little bit more of this. I love how spiritled you are on that because with that theme, there was an intention by God and what he brought even and thats a testimony in your story youre going to share. I wanted to preface with that Im proud. 

UAC 160 | Vulnerability


Ill probably get emotional. 

It’s something else I love about you. 

Vulnerability has been my focus. One of my challenges was to be vulnerable in whatever shape that takes because I do consider myself an open book. I’m like, “If people want to know, I’m happy to share.” I’ve learned to not be embarrassed about my circumstances or my past choices because those are in the past and I’ve learned from things as we all have. With that, I experience anxiety when I am in people’s weddings. We don’t have to dissect all of this and a lot of that stemmed from the year I graduated. I was at fifteen weddings. For whatever reason, that triggered me towards the end of having a lot of anxiety around being in front of people. I’ve never liked to be in front of people. With that, I would fight through it and I would commit a year in advance and then I would think about it at least every day, leading up to, “I don’t want to walk down the aisle.” It’s not even about me and that’s why it was frustrating. 

For those of you who experienced anxiety, I’m sure you can relate with, “This is frustrating because it’s not about me and it feels like it’s becoming about me because I’m worried about whatever.” I had a dear friend give me a call and she asked if I wanted to be in her wedding and I was and am honored. I had goosebumps when she was asking me. I was like, “This is cool.” I had a little maybe ten-second pause after she asked of, “Do I say yes and don’t bring her into what I’m experiencing? Do I bring her in, loop her in, be vulnerable and share?” There was a real fear of, “She could be mad at me, or what do you mean?” Think differently of me because of my experience with anxiety around being in weddings. 

UAC 160 | Vulnerability


I decided to share and did the whole, “It isn’t about you. It is not personal. I want to bring you into this space of this is what I experience and I am for you and your partner.” Without skipping a beat, it was right when I stopped talking, she was like, “I want you to be a part of it. To whatever capacity you’re comfortable with being a part of it, that’s enough for me.” I feel like that’s the start to the path of redemption for me and that sphere of experiencing anxiety being in weddings. I felt the grace of God extended to me, “No problem. I understand everyone has their thing. What are you comfortable with?” I felt heard, seen, better known. I’m grateful. 

It’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I love that story, that testimony of the power of vulnerability because we’re focusing on it, or talking about it doesn’t mean it gets less scary. It’s always in that moment going to be scary of like, “This person could say something hurtful. This could be dividing versus unifying thing. This could be blank and blank.” Whatever it is, fill in the blank to have the courage to do it and to follow the lead of like, “This is what I needed to do here.” 

Even sharing now, I’ve felt myself getting hot and what are people going to think? “What do you mean you don’t like to be at weddings?” Honestly, I asked myself the same question as, “It’s not about me. I get to wear a cool new dress. I got to support my friend.” For all of those things for whatever reason, I experienced anxiety around that and I didn’t want to lose months of sleep over something that could be cured in one conversation, which it was. Something to say, if my friend had a negative reaction, that wouldn’t be a reflection of me and my vulnerability. It would have been a reflection of her. It’s a sweet thing to remember this person loves me and if this person loves me, I’ll be met with love and grace. 

In those situations when we aren’t, we can always extend grace to people in that. I can’t remember who said this quote but it sparked to my mind, “We suffer more in imagination than reality.” One of the biggest benefits of vulnerability is we can end that imaginary suffering of scenarios because we get it out there and we play out the scenario in real life, which eliminates a lot of the mental suffering that can come when we fail to act. It’s not saying every situation will be that way, but that’s the benefit of being vulnerable. Speaking of vulnerability there’s something else that you’ve been vulnerable with. 

I feel like this whole episode is on vulnerability, which is right on. 

We’re living it. We’re practicing what we preach. 

The start of quarantine in April or Mayhowever long ago that was, a lot of women from past circles had been reaching out and sharing. I felt like one of the common themes was women settling whether that be with, “I don’t work out anymore. My body is it is what it is. I’m dating this person, but I’m not always happy.” For the record, relationship is not about happiness. The point was like, “I don’t know if I’d be able to find anyone else or I’m in this job and it’s okay.” I felt called and prompted by the spirit to do something for women and I kept coming back to Jesus was all about the one. Whatever it was, even if I could affect one woman for betterthen that would be enough. 

I’m off of all social media. I was praying through what avenue made sense. I landed on a weekly newsletter and I send out a weekly newsletter and it’s outlined by Stay the Course, Stay Curious and Stay Light. The hope is to encourage and empower women on the journey from someone who is also on the journey and a place where we can share what has been helpful in bringing our best selves to the day. Staying curious, what are we learning? How are we considering all sides of an issue or a topic? Stay light is how can we laugh? Lanny Hunter, one of our friends said, I’m paraphrasing, but he never travels any too great distance without someone who can laugh. Humor is a beautiful and important gift. 

[bctt tweet=”We suffer more in imagination than in reality. Vulnerability eliminates a lot of that mental suffering. ” via=”no”]

What is it called? 

It’s called Worthy A Weekly Reset. It drops on Monday mornings right to your inbox. It’s been challenging and beautiful. It’s been rewarding. I’m grateful to be a part of it. 

It’s sweet to see you go from spark idea and then marinating on it and then taking action and being vulnerable. Lo and behold, here we come. Our topic is vulnerability. Here we are, we happened to have a show, which is ironic but also divine in a lot of ways. If there are women out there that would like to be involved, is there a place that they can go to? 

Yes. I don’t know off the top of my head the URL.  (

I’m excited to see what comes from Worthy and how you continue to encourage others. What’s cool is we are more blessed by trying to bless others. If I’ve learned anything from podcasting and writing, it’s that I’ve benefited ten times more than others have. I’m excited because that will be true with you and worthy as well. It already has been, which is sweetI love hearing from the women that it has reached and impacted. It’s the coolest thing. If you’re a woman out there, hop on it. 

The last thing I’ll say about it is it’s been overwhelming in a sweet way to see how universal a lot of our struggles or circumstances are as women. I asked for some feedback and a lot of the feedback was on body image and that was ranging from 19 to 60 years old. It’s cool to know that. Speaking of vulnerabilityby putting something out there and then having all these people say, “Me too,” that’s been powerful. 

You’re not alone. We are not alone. To end, we thought we had to mention the habit we are working on building. What habit are you working on building? 

I’ve been working on building a few. 

UAC 160 | Vulnerability


That’s you. The one I’ve been most consistent with is water intake, and it does take intentionality. I feel better on the days I get my number of ounces and I try to get 100 in each day. There’s no universal consensus on if it’s, “You’re supposed to drink your body weight in ounces or half your body weight.” I landed on 100 ounces besides more frequent bathroom breaks, that’s the only negative thing. I feel my brain is clear, my skin is brighter and all the wins, and I know I’m taking care of my body. What would you say? 

The habit I am buildingI haven’t thought about this so let me think. I would say two things that come to mind. The first is trying to get better at entrusting things to God. What I mean by that is relying on his power and timing and not my own. It is a hard thing for me to do. I like to hustle and I like to put in the work and the hours and the effort, and try to make things happen. I don’t think that is the best posture for me or for people trying to follow the way of Jesus. For me, it’s being okay with accepting where I’m at and being diligent, but not being not entrusting the results to myselfThat habit is more mental than anything. It’s a mental discipline. The second would be for us, I would say the habit of being conscious of our connection. I hope I’ve been getting better at that. That’s an important thing in a relationship, you are much more in tune than I am by nature. Itstrength of yours and a weakness of mine. It’s been fun to try to be more conscious of that and try to adjust as needed in that. That’s the two that would come to mind. 

I feel I’ve seen you grow in both of those areas. 

This has been fun. We’re both hungry and thirsty. Couch combo numero tres is officially done. Until next time, my love. 

I love you, Thane. 

I love you. We hope you all have an up and coming week. 

This is Thane here following up with one last thing to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from, whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released on the first Sunday of the month. This is a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time. 

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About Evan Ryan Ringler

UAC 160 | Vulnerability

Evan Ryan Ringler is my wife. (Woot Woot!) She is one of the most thoughtful, caring, and intentional individuals I have ever met in my life, which is why I had to wife her up! In all seriousness, she is a powerhouse of a woman that I can’t wait for you all to get to know better. She grew up in Overland Park, KS, and quickly gravitated to her natural athleticism, centering in on the sport of soccer.

She competed for four years at the University of Arkansas on the soccer team before graduating with a degree in International Relations. After graduating she spent time at Garmin and Children’s Mercy before deciding to move to Denver for a new adventure in the Rockies. After almost two years as the Rocky Mountain Regional Manager for Life Equals, she decided to venture into her own pursuits as a consultant, pouring time into a few other passion projects she has as well.

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