At the moment, there is a big rise in “diseases of despair.” These are things like substance abuse, alcohol dependency, suicidal thoughts and behaviors. As a matter of fact, according to the medical journal BMJ, diseases of despair have soared in the United States over the past decade, rising 68% between 2009 and 2018. The study also shows suicidal thoughts and behaviors were up 70%. And all of that was of course before COVID.
However, despair doesn’t have to mean defeat. Our guest today, Eric Jorgensen is an extraordinary man. His son, William was born with significant disabilities. What you’re about to hear is the extraordinary tale of how Eric’s life turned to tragedy, the horrible suffering that he endured and the painful events of Eric and William’s life. You’ll also hear how this real American hero transformed, unbearable despair into triumph.
Road to Healing
Life often throws us whirlwinds of challenges, tragedy, and sometimes even despair. Eric shares his tale of how he has withstood the hardships of having cancer and taking care of his son with significant disabilities. He shares his extraordinary story of recovery, all the while dealing with the global pandemic, Covid-19.
“When I found out it was grade IIA cancer. I guess in the scheme of things, I was somewhere in the middle. I didn’t need chemo. I didn’t need radiation. In terms of recovery, I got really lucky. It was just a matter of taking care of my wound and letting it heal…In regard to COVID, alI I could think about is holy crap. It was scary. If I get sick, on top of cancer, and I can’t help my son out on his day to day stuff, what’s going to happen. Who’s going to do that for me?” – Eric Jorgensen
Channel Your Anger
The ability to appropriately express and channel one’s anger is one of the most important things about being human. Eric discusses how his anger, while not always constructive, was the driving force for him to start his own company. Rising through all this frustration and anger, it was able to lead him into where he is now.
“I was getting frustrated because what I was being asked to do, wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t helping the people I wanted to help. It wasn’t addressing the need I thought it needed to be filled… Now that I started my company ,I get to help families who are where I was eight years ago. Not knowing what to do and I’m catching them before they get there.” – Eric Jorgensen
Know You’re Not Alone
Eric shares his big learnings as he looks back over the last eight years of his life and how he has navigated through his challenges. One of the things he wants people to remember is that don’t try and do everything alone. Everyone is strong but oftentimes, one needs someone they can lean on and trust.
“I kept it balled in and then it would shockingly blow up at the worst possible time. I would take it out on people that I had absolutely no reason for me to take it out on. So try to build a team or a tribe or whatever you call it. Try to build a group of people. I keep my circle pretty small. Get a couple of really tight people that you can really really trust.” – Eric Jorgensen
To know more how to redesign your life with Eric Jorgensen, download and listen to this episode.
Eric has been helping families with intellectual and developmental disabilities since his retirement from the Navy in 2012.
He was widowed the same year he retired.
At the time his 12 y/o autistic son, William, was completely dependent on his wife for everything.
It was his frustration with the difficulty of figuring out what to do and navigating services for his son which led him to found Special Needs Navigator.
Eric created the category of Special Needs Planning to help families, individuals and caregivers connect the dots when working with attorneys, financial advisors, and other professionals.
His specialty is helping them identify what they don’t know and provide clarity. He works with his clients around the country to develop individualized solutions best suited to their circumstances.
In addition to working with clients one on one; Special Needs Navigator has a blog, YouTube channel and podcast. Eric uses the blog to do a deep dive every week into subjects like ABLE accounts, Special Needs Trusts and other topics families frequently have questions about.
The podcast and YouTube channel focus on benefits, resources and services families may not know, or want to learn more, about.
Website: Special Needs Navigator
Podcast: ABC’s of Disability Planning
Today, we go deep into the life, lessons and learnings of a legendary musician, singer, producer, and songwriter Sharon Vaughn. Sharon has written hits for legends like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Reba McEntire, The Oak Ridge Boys, George Jones, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Patty Loveless, Agnes, and Kate Ryan. In 2019 Sharon was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
If you’re a creative person, if you love music and if you find inspiration in stories of amazing triumph, you’ll love this episode. Pay special attention to Sharon’s thoughts on the grand dame of country music, Dolly Parton.
A Creative Writing Instrument
Sharon discusses her professional and personal background and how she developed an interest in singing and songwriting. She goes into detail about how her writing process has been a schizophrenia lifestyle.
“It’s a very difficult line to walk because if you’re writing for strictly commercial, it gets vapid. If you’re writing strictly for an emotional purging, then it gets selfish and self centered. But if you walk that straight and narrow line between commercial and genuine emotion. That’s where the tension lies.” – Sharon Vaughn
Admiration of Musical Genius
Sharon continues to discuss her professional journey. She lets us in on her joys and difficulties of what it was like to work as a harmony singer. Further, she shares what it was like working with Jimmy Buffet, Porter Wagoner, Bill Anderson, and Dolly Parton.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
Sharon describes her excitement and her thankfulness for being inducted to Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Further, she expresses her gratefulness to the people along the way who have been instrumental to her life. This all had contributed to her becoming a great listener and a legendary storyteller.
“Everybody on this planet has a story. Most of them are very eager for you to hear it, to tell it. All you have to do is have enough curiosity to listen and respect what they’re saying. You have to realize that everybody in this world is worthy of listening to. I, for one, have been the recipient of listening to people and that’s the main thing I’m most grateful for. ” – Sharon Vaughn
To know more about the legendary Sharon Vaugh and her incredible life journey, download and listen to this episode.
Vaughn moved to Nashville in her early 20s. In 1974, she charted two singles as a performer for Cinnamon Records: a duet with Narvel Felts titled “Until the End of Time”, and “Never a Night Goes By”. A year later, she signed with Dot Records and released a third single, “You and Me, Me and You”. She was also the lead singer in the Lea Jane Singers, and worked with the Jordanaires, the Nashville Edition and The Holladay Sisters.
Vaughn’s first big songwriting success was Waylon Jennings (1976) “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.” Willie Nelson later popularized the song in 1980 for the soundtrack of the movie The Electric Horseman.
Her next songwriting hit was The Oak Ridge Boys (1977)’s “Y’all Come Back Saloon.” Since then she has worked with country artists such as Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker and Kenny Rogers. Vaughn was a nominee for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame three times, and was inducted in 2019.
Vaughn has during the last couple of years had over 100 cuts with European artists and four number ones in Japan. She has worked with several Swedish Idol artists including the winner Jay Smith (2010) and a number one hit for Ola. She has also worked with many Scandinavian songwriters and artists including Agnes, Mutt Lange, Tony Nilsson, Vendela, Anders Hanson and Emilia.
In 2009, her co-written song Release Me by Swedish pop artist Agnes reached #1 on the U.S Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart. In 2013, Vaughn received a JASRAC Award as #1 of the Top 10 Foreign Works for her 2011 co-written song “Rising Sun” by the Japanese pop band EXILE.
During 2014, Vaughn competed as the songwriter of three songs in Melodifestivalen.
Vaughn has also co-written songs with Ian Dench and Carl Falk.
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Waylon Jennings
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Willie Nelson
We continue our run on legendary authors today with none other than NY #1 Best Selling Author, Ryan Holiday. You see, the only authors we ever have are the ones that we think have ideas, teachings, and stories that are worth digging into.
Today, we go deep into the teachings of some of the greatest thinkers in history. Ryan helps us see the events of today through the lens of powerful philosophers and history, providing today, in an incredible context. We deal with big topics like truth, character, pain, and suffering humor, and a lot more.
Invest Time in Reading
Chris lauded Ryan for writing a historical book in the age where almost everyone is addicted to selfies. Ryan was actually amazed himself how in this age and time, people still invest in time and money reading books. He shares what he thinks about good books and why people still opt for a book, instead of getting validation in social media.
“I opened the book, there’s a story about Xenos, the founder of Stoicism. You get this prophecy as a young man that the Oracle tells him ‘you will become wise when you begin to have conversations with the dead.’ Years later at a chance encounter in a bookstore, do you come to realize that this prophecy was about reading, that books are a way to speak to the dead.” – Ryan Holiday
Condensed Life Experiences
Ryan and Chris discuss life-changing books. Ryan shares an anecdote from Socrates saying: “the reason you read is that you gain quite easily what others learned quite painfully.” He further describes his new book Lives Of The Stoics, as something less about him and more about the wisdom of the past.
“Reading is condensed information. It’s distilled down information. In reading one book, you could jump forward a year of your life, or 10 years of your life. It can save you painful trial and error.” – Ryan Holiday
An Escape and Reassurance
Ryan further shares what he thinks about good books being an escape and reassurance. Reading books, especially historical ones, will make you realize that you are not alone dealing with your feelings or that there are universal truths that span from generations. One of which is human struggling and the fight between good and evil.
“I find whenever I’m stressed about what’s happening, I try to study the past. This gives me a clear view of what’s happening right now.” – Ryan Holiday
To know more about Ryan Holiday and his new NY best-selling book, Lives of the Stoics, download and listen to this episode.
Ryan Holiday is one of the world’s foremost thinkers and writers on ancient philosophy and its place in everyday life.
He is a sought-after speaker, strategist, and the author of many bestselling books including The Obstacle Is the Way; Ego Is the Enemy; and The Daily Stoic.
He’s newest book Lives Of The Stoics is an instant New York Times Advice & Business Bestseller, USA Today Bestseller, and Wall Street Journal #1 Bestseller.
His books have been translated into over 30 languages and read by over two million people worldwide. He lives outside Austin, Texas, with his family.
In this episode, a truly legendary conversation with two extraordinary men, men who are on a mission to stop deadly wildfires. First, we have Charlie Croker, the founder and CEO of Zone Haven. Zone Haven is using data to everything technologies, to help government agencies and citizens both plan for and respond to serious disasters.
Our second guest is Chief Jonathan Cox, CalFire Executive who is responsible for fire operations in this region.
Together, Charlie and Jonathan share how firefighting heroes stop these fires and save countless lives and billions in property.
A Night Californians Will Never Forget
The night of Saturday, August 15 2020, a massive lightning storm hit the region. Approximately 12,000 strikes of lightning hit Northern California which caused massive fires. The wildfire lasted for weeks and it destroyed almost 10,000 buildings along with the big basin redwoods State Park, and took the life of one person.
“It was a horrifying fire and it started eating the mountainous area that has a lot of underbrush, some of the most beautiful ancient redwoods, and a lot of wonderful homes, towns and businesses.” – Christopher Lochhead
The Worst Fire Season In History
Chief Jonathan Cox recounted to Chris how they had expected the worst for the wildfire season. However, they did not expect this horrible incident to have grown into that magnitude. He further explained their process and prioritization and how technology from Zone Haven has contributed a lot to their firefighting efforts.
“We’re very good when there’s one or two large fires burning, getting an incident management team assembled and getting resources drawn throughout the system. But this really was one of those moments where you had concurrent major emergencies happening in a small geographical area, really in the Bay Area, and a little bit north, and it really turned into a prioritization of resources based on the threat to humans and the threat to structures.” – Chief Jonathan Cox
Saving Lives and Properties
Charlie Crocker, from Zone Haven shares the technology as it relates to helping CalFire make sound decisions during that emergency. He further shares in this episode how their communication strategy, along with the CalFire executives, were in sync and were out of the box, that it made drastic results in terms of preventing more damages.
“The main focus of it and why we’re called Zone Haven is that we really focus on very small neighborhoods or zones. So these zones are smart. They know the number of people, they know how quick, how long it’s going to take for people to get out of there.” – Charlie Crocker
To know more about How Heroes Fight Wildfires and for more information about CAL FIRE Chief Jonathan Cox & ZoneHaven CEO Charlie Crocker, download and listen to this episode.
CAL FIRE Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox
CalFire Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Cox oversees fire operations at the San Mateo County Division of CAL FIRE, which includes San Mateo County Fire Department and Coastside Fire Protection District.
His passion for the fire service started young, prior to his current role he worked both municipal and wildland fire field operations with CAL FIRE at Coastside Fire District, San Mateo County Fire Department and San Luis Obispo County Fire Department.
In addition, he spent several years as the Northern California spokesperson for CAL FIRE. Jonathan was also a founding member for CAL FIRE’s land use planning program at the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), working with local jurisdictions to make informed land use decisions related to the threat of wildfire.
Jonathan also responds to, and manages, some of California’s largest disasters. He spent five years as a member of CAL FIRE’s Incident Management Team 6 (FEMA Type 1), where he served on the command staff in the capacity of Public Information Officer (PIO1).
He holds a Bachelors Degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and a Masters Degree from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
He has also completed an intensive training at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Jonathan is a State of California (OSFM) certified Chief Officer and Registered Instructor.
Additionally, Jonathan is an emergency response educator and trainer in the field of emergency management and crisis communications.
He has been a subject matter expert speaker at numerous conferences, including the National Fire Protection Association. His work has spanned five countries and involved working with hundreds of professionals.
He has lived in the US, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Charlie Crocker, Founder/CEO Zonehaven
Charlie is the Co-Founder and CEO of Zonehaven Inc.
He is a data geek and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience building teams to bring data out of the shadows and drive business value.
Prior to Zonehaven, he built Autodesk’s first big data platform team to support migration to subscription and the cloud. He also led product management for Autodesk’s flagship AutoCAD product line.
Prior to Autodesk he was co-founder in a start-up focused on spatial databases and web-based tools for state and local government agencies and utility companies.
Charlie has a passion for growing young leaders.
He mentors MBA and MSBA students at UC Davis and California College of the Arts.
Linkedin: Chief Cox
Linkedin: Charlie Crocker
Today, we have a very big conversation about social change, entrepreneurship, Black Lives Matter, and a whole lot more with author, entrepreneur, and speaker, D’Narius Lewis. We believe he represents a voice that is not being heard enough right now — the voice of young African American entrepreneurs.
D’narius has gone from homeless to successful. He is the founder of Optimum Outreach, a telecom brokerage firm. Frankly, we need to be asking ourselves “how do we foster an environment where there are a lot more D’narius Lewis’ you see denarius amongst many entrepreneurs?”
Living in Ground Zero
Christopher probes D’narius what it is like to be a young black male American entrepreneur, living in the “hood” in Minneapolis, which, as you know, is where George Floyd was killed. D’narius described how on the same day as his birthday, literally just 30 minutes away, George Floyd suffered from police brutality.
“Everyone wants to have this conversation but until you actually put yourself on the ground level and take action and see why people are protesting, see why people are frustrated. There has to be a reform behind everything that’s been created. It’s a never ending conversation.” – D’Narius Lewis
What It Would Take For A Breakthrough
D’Narius believes having the right conversations are essentially what needs to be done to get something out of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Right now, we’re still having a debate to why this isn’t even a conversation. Racism is not real and so having that first conversation is really like ‘let’s actually sit down and break this down. Let’s not be defensive. Let’s actually break down the facts.’ Once we get down that road, then let’s break down defunding the police department. A lot of people want to defund the police department. The police department defunded funds is not completely defunding a police department. It is taking funds that can be allocated to the community, to allocate for individuals and mental health spaces. ” – D’Narius Lewis
Crime is Crime By Humans
D’narius shares more about humans committing crimes and how people want to be treated as humans. He also shares about what is happening at the local level, especially why the activists are not the person responsible for the riots.
“We’re still having the same conversation that Martin Luther King had Malcolm X had. Now we’re in the 2020s many years away from that conversation and we’re still saying, ‘hey, are we’re still being killed on the streets by police brutality,’ ‘hey, we’re still living in poverty from from years of being set free, but not actually given a system to be a part of.’ The list goes on and on of all these different roadblocks and loopholes that I might know I’ve had to go through because the system wasn’t built for us.” – – D’Narius Lewis
To hear more about D’Narius and social change, entrepreneurship, Black Lives Matter, and a whole lot more, download and listen to this episode.
D’Narius Lewis was born May 25, 1993, in Shelby County, Tennessee. His family then moved to Minnesota in 1998 where he currently resides. D’Narius was raised by his single mother; being the youngest and only boy in his family shaped his outlook on life and the concept of survival and determination. He has stepped up to the plate as being the man of his household to keep his family as a unit.
A born entrepreneur, D’Narius Lewis started his sales career at the age of 15 when he began selling iPhones and Androids off Craigslist; this led to his passion for business and entrepreneurship.
While in college D’Narius balanced a full time job along with being a student. His balance became overwhelming and he often found himself having to decide to go to work or school. He later got fired from his job and eventually dropped out of college in rebellion to the demanding college lifestyle.
During that time, until he was 21, D’Narius had worked over 6 jobs and found his instability to be the result of his lack of passion, lack of freedom, and unfulfilling financial standing. Eventually, in 2012 D’Narius was a homeless-couch surfing kid with nothing but a suitcase and a name. He didn’t have a permit, a license, or a car, so his ability to get around was also limited.
Fortunately, things took a positive turn and he found himself blessed to have a friend from high school whose family took him in. By the summer of 2013, the money D’Narius made was used to support rent, bills, and groceries–which was limited to $10. He often found himself left with $7.40 after all his bills were paid. He soon decided that was not the life he wanted to live, so he did something about it.
Fast-forward to 2016, D’Narius is now an author, speaker, and social media expert with multiple books on self-help and inspiration. His love for networking, desire for likability, and rebellious attitude towards societies’ monotonous standards are what motivated, and still motivates him to attain his current level of success
D’Narius attributes his success to constantly moving and failing forward. Even when he had $1 to his name, no one knew his financial struggles, but he knew it would only temporary. D’Narius also attributes much of his success to his mentor Mary Dingmann, whom taught him the concept of transformational learning or guidance education.
D’Narius dedicates his career to teaching people that they can live the life of their dreams if they are willing to suspend their disbelief for an extended period of time and maintain the discipline it takes to work toward your dreams every day. D’Narius believes that people are meant to live an abundant, rewarding, and fulfilling life.
Imagine being able to sit down and have a meaningful conversation about the state of the United States. We speak with a woman who is a Yale-educated lawyer, a graduate of the FBI famed Academy in Quantico Virginia, and a former FBI counterintelligence investigator. This woman is a senior lecturer at Yale and a legal and national security analyst for CNN. That woman is none other than Asha Rangappa.
We have a powerful conversation about the state of affairs in the United States and the decline of social capital. We talk about the destructive power of disinformation and disengagement, and more. This is a big insight into what’s going on in our world today.
Shakespeare and Current Events
Asha narrated how she became a Shakespeare aficionado. She even found herself playing roles in several Shakespeare theatre adaptations. She shares how she finds Shakespeare’s stories as universal, which also explains why these get a lot of modern adaptation.
“You can actually look at characters and understand motivations of people today through his words. So I’m a big fan. I don’t know if that answers the question of why Shakespeare but I find him especially relevant to current events.” – Asha Rangappa
30% of Americans Don’t Trust Each Other
Asha recounted to Christopher how the United States is at a moment of the lowest level of general social trust since World War Two. Social capital is referred to as “the value that we get from our relationships with other people.” She further explained that strong social capital is essential for a healthy democracy.
A high social capital means there is a generalized social trust. In short, people care about the well being of their fellow man.
“Most Americans don’t trust each other. This is actually a question on the General Social Survey they’ve asked, but asking it since 1972, and we’re at the lowest response, which is about 30% of people say that most Americans can be trusted.” – Asha Rangappa
Worst Possible Choices Being Made
Asha believes we are currently in a crisis point. She agrees with Christopher that circumstances are forcing people to decide on the future that they want to live in.
“On the roster of choices have been made, whether it’s with the pandemic or the economy or in response to the protest, and I’m talking about, the Trump administration. So, I think that it has brought to the fore what I was talking about before that, we are at a precarious moment. I have felt that this has been a precarious moment, even before this. I think the urgency of it might be brought home to a greater degree, because of this kind of critical state that we’re in at this moment.” – Asha Rangappa
To know more about Asha and her thoughts on the destructive power of disinformation and disengagement and the general state of the United States, download and listen to this episode.
Asha Rangappa is a Senior Lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a former Associate Dean at Yale Law School.
Prior to her current position, Asha served as a Special Agent in the New York Division of the FBI, specializing in counterintelligence investigations.
Her work involved assessing threats to national security, conducting classified investigations on suspected foreign agents, and performing undercover work.
While in the FBI, Asha gained experience in electronic surveillance, interview and interrogation techniques, firearms, and the use of deadly force. She has taught National Security Law and related courses at Yale University, Wesleyan University, and the University of New Haven.
Asha graduated cum laude from the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study constitutional reform in Bogotá, Colombia.
She received her law degree from Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Juan R. Torruella on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is admitted to the State Bar of New York (2003) and Connecticut (2003).
Asha has published op-eds in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post among others and has appeared on NPR, BBC, and several major television networks.
She is an editor for Just Security and is currently a legal and national security analyst for CNN.
Asha lives in Hamden, Connecticut with her two children.
Today, we have a super fun episode with American Gladiator superstar Dan Nitro Clark. He’s a former NFL player, best selling author, speaker, fitness freak, and heart attack survivor. For a big, manly, strong, muscley looking dude with a reputation like his, you might be surprised to hear he is incredibly open, candid, and vulnerable.
We dig into his life as an athlete and a celebrity. He talks about what it’s like to be among some of the earliest athletes in America to take steroids and what he learned from that. We talked about coming back from major setbacks and a whole lot more!
Dan shares he started using steroids back when he was a freshman College. He wanted to secure a football scholarship badly and he resorted to the “in” thing at that time. Back then, it was unregulated and the only information available about it is that the body recuperates faster.
“I think the fallacy in the misinformation is, anybody who takes steroids is going to get huge. No, you’re not going to get huge. You still got to wait. You got to move waves. It still takes in a tremendous amount of work and effort and diet. Man, you got to go be willing to die, every workout.” – Dan Nitro Clark
The Downside of Steroids
As a strong promoter of steroids use, Dan still warns of the responsibilities one must take before, while and after using steroids. Steroids make the blood clot more so there are indications with regard to medical operations and procedures. It also increases estrogen levels in the body which explains why some men grow “manboobs.”
“It puts you out on a fair playing field. So in that sense, I don’t know if there’s a lot of harm. I think the harm comes when you start to do monstrous levels. With anything excess, and there’s equally when you have low testosterone, there are increased cardiac incidences. All these other side effects, as well and both sides too much too little. The idea is to be in the optimum range.” – Dan Nitro Clark
Wearing The Meatsuit
In a rare moment, Dan shares his personal experiences growing up. Looking back, he shares what he experienced with his divorced parents, the untimely death of his older brother at 12 years old, and how he coped with life as a broken young man.
“I didn’t have anybody to console me. His death my mom was Japanese, she barely spoke the language. So, you know, I learned to take care of myself emotionally. I learned that big boys don’t cry. I learned you don’t talk about your feelings. I learned you sucked it up. I think that was the thing. Nobody can hurt me. Nobody is going to touch me. I think that was the whole idea Why? You know, I wanted to be bigger, stronger, faster. I wanted to have this meat suit on.” – Dan Nitro Clark
To hear more about Dan, the American Gladiator, download and listen to this episode.
Dan is a former pro football player, American Gladiator, #1 Bestselling Author, TV Host, Entrepreneur, and Speaker.
He has been featured on Good Morning America, The Early Show, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, ESPN, EXTRA, People, Time Magazine, Esquire, Men’s Health, Sport’s Illustrated, and the Huffington Post to name a few.
If you’re looking for an extraordinary speaker on the topic of resilience and motivation, you just found him.
Dan is a thought-leader and storyteller with the rare capability to not only inspire your audience to change but also teach them how.
Today, we continue our run of legendary authors and podcasters with Dr. Christopher Ryan, author of New York Times bestsellers, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships and Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress. He has a chart-topping dialog podcast is called, Tangentially Speaking,
We have a fun, some times provocative discussion about everything from Muhammad Ali, what’s wrong with modernity, how the world is fundamentally changing, why living in a van is awesome, to what it’s like making a living as roving, smart person.
The Legendary Muhammad Ali
Christopher Ryan and Christopher Lochhead went into an insightful exchange of stories about Muhammad Ali. Chris shares during this lockdown, he discovered a YouTube channel that featured several classic fights and he enjoyed binge-watching on these.
Chris mentions Pete McCormick, the guy behind a documentary called “Facing Ali” and he interviewed guys who fought Ali. The interesting backstory was, during these tune-up fights, Ali would handpick his opponent.
“He would tell his agent, he heard one guy, his wife had been killed in an accident, so he will get a quarter-million dollars. He’s beating people up in a charitable, generous way.” – Christopher Ryan
Podcasting Has Been Instrumental
Lochhead describes Ryan as “an insanely smart Ph.D. dude who seems to make a living being a smart guy, writing smart shit, podcasting smart shit, generally being the smart guy in the world.” He says podcasting has been instrumental in getting his message across.
“It used to be, if you want to sit down and share your opinions to a hundred young smart people who are interested in hearing an old guy like me, you had a gig in the university. Universities are designed to filter out people like me or Joe Rogan or you, people who are liable to say something outlandish, to challenge this status quo.” – Christopher Ryan
He further shares that he is generally pessimistic about the modern world, but one of the wonderful things that happened recently is that podcasting exploded.
“It is almost like a printing press, it just exploded, the opportunity to have direct contact between someone in the audience and the audience chooses whether or not it’s worth listening to. It is not the administrators of the university or publishing house, you know the gatekeepers.” – Christopher Ryan
What It Is Like Living In A Van
Christopher says he owned an apartment for a while until last fall when he spent 5 months in the van. He ditched his apartment, rented a storage space, and continued living life on the road since then. He traveled across the United States during the summer and flew to tropical countries during the wintertime.
“When this stuff got weird, end of January, I flew back. I didn’t want to get stranded in Asia. I rented a house in a tiny little town in Colorado. I’ve been here, it is fantastic, there’s no problem with social distancing. I like solitude. I like a good solid chunk of quiet and distance.” – Christopher Ryan
To hear more about Christopher and what’s wrong with modernity and how the world is fundamentally changing, download and listen to this episode.
Christopher and his work have been featured just about everywhere, including Netflix, HBO, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Times of London, Playboy, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, and The Atlantic.
Chris has been a featured speaker at TED, SXSW, The Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House, the Einstein Forum in Pottsdam, Germany, and is a frequent guest on The Joe Rogan Experience and many other podcasts.
He’s also provided expert testimony in a Canadian constitutional hearing and appeared in dozens of documentary films and television shows.
Even before co-authoring the New York Times best-seller, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships (translated into 18 languages), with Cacilda Jethá, MD,
Chris was on a wild ride.
After receiving a BA in English and American literature in 1984 he spent the next two decades traveling around the world, pausing in unexpected places to work at decidedly odd jobs (e.g., gutting salmon in Alaska, teaching English to prostitutes in Bangkok and self-defense to land-reform activists in Mexico, managing commercial real-estate in New York’s Diamond District, helping Spanish physicians translate and publish their research).
In his mid-30s, Chris decided to pursue doctoral studies in Psychology at Saybrook Graduate School, in San Francisco, CA, using his dissertation to critique mainstream views of human sexual evolution — providing the core arguments later advanced in Sex at Dawn.
Chris’s latest book, Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress (Simon & Schuster/Avid Reader Press, 2019), questions whether civilization has actually been a net benefit to our species. He hosts a weekly podcast, Tangentially Speaking, often recorded from the road, while traveling in his van, Scarlett Jovansson.
The podcast features conversations with famous comics, bank robbers, drug smugglers, porn stars, authors, and rattlesnake experts.
Today, a magical, mystical bestselling author and podcaster, Rhonda Smith, is with us today. She’s got a new book out called The Whole Method and a soul-affirming podcast called Cosmic Smith.
She’s incredibly open about what she calls “radical fullness.” We talk about why it’s ok, that not everyone is going to like you and why we want to experience everything in life and so much more.
Rhonda has overcome becoming a self-described “meth head” to transform her life. has been amazed at what little clean living can do for the body. She described how in the past two and a half years, she was battling a mind-blowing, brutal depression with suicidal tendencies. She copes with the whole situation by what she described as “understanding the darkness of her soul.”
“I finally remember how to be me, and allowed it. Radical acceptance, radical fullness.” – Rhonda Smith
She further shares the void inside every person, which is the center of our force. The dark is the feminine, the light is the masculine.
“Within the dark, and that void, that discomfort, that deep blackness of our soul, in that quiet space, when we learn how to sit there, that is when creation happens, just like the womb. It was learning how to be in that void of myself and not have to do or change anything and just be able to sit with it.” – Rhonda Smith
Dealing With Suffering
Christopher asks Rhonda to elaborate on the suffering or that void inside each person. He further shares that we have no choice once suffering “comes for us. We can resist it but we have to go through the fire in one way or another.
“The way I can best describe is like the thing people run from, the thing that keeps us in distraction, the things that keep us constantly seeking.” – Rhonda Smith
Teaching People Compassion
One of the biggest things Rhonda shares in this conversation is that one can’t teach someone to become empathetic or to have compassion. It is something that has to be learned through experience. Christopher and Rhonda exchange their point of view on why humanity has deemed homelessness and hunger as “okay.”
To know more about Rhonda and her views on designing your life, download and listen to this episode.
Rhonda Smith was born and raised in picturesque Northern California.
She spends most of her time between the San Francisco Bay area and the Sierra Nevada mountains with her majestic little wiener dog, Saylor Love.
Rhonda shares her message on stage, as well as through podcasting, coaching, and her work with sacred plant medicine. She uses all of these modalities to support people in remembering the truth about who they are.
Rhonda believes that only when we embrace the darkest parts of ourselves, do we learn the lessons that lead to remembering and living our deepest truth.
The greatest work of our lives is being willing to stand naked with all of our masks removed. The current state of our planet (living earth) and humanity is a catalyst to understand the way we’ve been living isn’t working!
This was the spark that ignited Rhonda’s mission.
Her newest company, “The Expanded Hueman” is set up to answer the question “What comes next after personal development?” It’s an invitation for us all to stop the madness of endlessly seeking outside ourselves. Her book, The Whole Method, is about remembering how to journey back into ourselves and once there, discover everything we need.
It’s when you realize that who you are on the inside doesn’t quite match up to the persona you’ve created on the outside – You’ve done well, people look up to you, but deep inside there’s a niggle that something’s not right…
Something is missing. You suspect there’s more for you to learn.