038. Facing Trauma to Allow for Growth with Mark Crandall

By on January 15, 2019


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Mark Crandall’s is a story of uncommon adversity and triumph. At age three, Mark was taken from his biological mother by the Department of Youth and Families and placed in the foster care system. He lacked the tools and supports to manage both his grief and his new reality in society’s margins. From the pieces he conjured stories about his own worth. At around age 12 Mark began contemplating whether or not to just give up.

Throughout his early childhood, Mark’s behavior stood out to others as being abnormal and aberrant. He began to engage in criminal activity, acting out his aggression at the expense of those closest to him and society at large. Years of counseling and various combinations of medications could not correct the feelings of inadequacy and separation within. Mark began to self-medicate with substances; thus began his spiral into painful, chaotic addiction. Mark found himself in and out of youth detention centers and other correctional facilities. He lashed out at those who would protect and support him. Though, even in his lowest moments, Mark recognized what others saw: There was greatness in even him.

In 2007, Mark found a spiritual program of action in which he began overcoming the many traumatic moments of his childhood. He also began the process of repairing the damage that he had caused others through his efforts to navigate life. Mark found freedom in an introspective process which informs his Transformational Life and Business Coaching and drug and alcohol Interventions. Mark is trained in some of the most powerful transformation practices available, all of which he uses in his work with others.

Mark has re-written the story of his life and has dedicated his life to empowering others to accomplish the same. Mark obtained a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW) in 2014 and became a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) and Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Mark spent seven years working with disadvantaged youth and providing individual and family counseling. He has conducted many successful Interventions for families in his work and has mastered the art of Transformational Life and Business Coaching. Mark is a master of conducting interventions and empowering the intervened client and the family to heal from drug addiction.

Mark’s success as an entrepreneur has made him a highly sought-after Transformational Life and Business Coach. He and his carefully curated circle of Transformational Life and Business Coaches do not believe that anyone lacks motivation; what they may lack, instead, is vision. We recognize that with vision and the proper mindset, anything is attainable. Mark has proven this principle in his own life by building a six-figure company within five months of its start; by publishing his renowned first memoir Eulogy of Childhood Memories; by leading fruitful corporate workshops;  and by inspiring a following through paid motivational speaking events. Mark learned with help from a long line of coaches that his past did not have to define his future. Mentors taught him how to break through real and imagined barriers and access greatness that lies within each living person. Mark considers his greatest assets to be his learned and organic abilities to bring out the potential within all of his clients and to guide them as they achieve their dreams.

Key Points from the Episode with Mark Crandall:

  • Mark shared his story, one of trauma, addiction, felony and transformation.
  • He started with his first memory, when he was two and a half, was painfully hungry and asked his sister where his mother was. His sister told him she was at the diner, and he remembers feeling anger toward his mother, and why she gets to eat but he doesn’t. That feeling kept recurring anytime he saw someone else with something and he didn’t have it.
  • His mother struggled with drugs and his father left before Mark had any memory of him.
  • He shared various stories that shaped him early on while he was still with his biological mother, culminating in when he was taken away from her and put into foster care with people who would end up adopting him and his sister.
  • His feeling growing up wasn’t that the situation he was born into was broken, but rather that he was. He felt that something was wrong with him, and that was why he was getting dropped off at random strangers’ homes, going hungry, not having clothes that fit, being physically hurt and ultimately not being “wanted” by his biological mother, or not wanted as much as she wanted her drugs.
  • That lead to a very aggressive way to live, which his adoptive parents bore the brunt of, as he swore to never let anyone hurt him the way his mother hurt him. He would hurt them first or make sure they never got a chance to hurt him.
  • His biological parents were on his mind all the time, and why he wasn’t like other kids. Why wasn’t he like them, why does he have these two families, why didn’t one of them keep him and care for him, why did his mother keep promising to come and yet never show up?
  • He either spent all of his energy in relationships waiting for someone to leave or pushing them away so they leave anyway.
  • At 11, he tried beer after seeing other people looking happy drinking, and he wanted that. It didn’t stick right away, but after a few years, he figured out what did make him happy after he started smoking marijuana.
  • As a pre-teen, he had his first thoughts of suicide. He thought about what the world would be like without him and that no one loves him. That’s not common for a nine to 11 year old, and he didn’t tell anyone about it. But around that time, he started to act out even more. He started setting fires, killing and torturing animals and other things. He holds a lot of shame about what he did, and is still working through those feelings today.
  • He started to smoke weed daily, and started stealing regularly to support his drug habit or just because.
  • The way he puts it, at nine years old, he had all the traits of a serial“å9 killer.
  • He ended up in a group home at 11 years old, which actually made things worse as he was around really bad behaviors and learned how to do even more bad things.
  • He went to high school after the group homes now armed with knowledge of all these new drugs he learned about, how to get them and how to use them, he felt he was on a mission to get drugs and that defined his high school years. Truancy, intoxication, anger and bad behavior. He said he was on a daily mission to quiet the voices in his head about how much he hated himself.
  • We talked about whether marijuana is a gateway drug. While this is debated biologically, we both agreed that behaviorally, it is. When you break down the barriers and stigmas, your aversion to a darker path diminishes. And now you are connected to a world with access to more and more of these things, so you can easily go down that path. For Mark, that’s how he got into heroin. His weed dealer was out of weed, but offered him, “something better instead.” He obviously would not have been in a position to start doing heroin without having been looking for weed.
  • Mark described his first experience with heroin and how it was the first relief he ever experienced from the extreme turmoil and pain he felt inside. It also lead to his being thrown out of his mother’s house and the path that eventually landed him in jail.
  • He did a year in county jail, and did a lot of reading in there, including David Peltzer’s various books like A Child Called It and Lost Boy. He realized while in prison that he would one day be an author and transform lives. He just wasn’t ready to do it yet, but the seed was planted.
  • After getting out of jail, the pain got stronger and the voice of anger inside of him got louder, which eventually lead him to use again. Once he started again, he quickly spiraled out of control to heavy use and criminal activity with police chasing him regularly. Not after long, he was back in prison, and views his second time as rehabilitative. Interestingly, he was high the entire time, so he doesn’t mean it like that, but they forced him to get his GED, which was the first step to going to a court-ordered, year-long strict rehab program that saved his life.
  • In rehab, he was introduced to a number of tools that changed his life as he began seeking. He was taught about meditation, religion and various books by people like The Dalai Lama and Thict Naut Hahn. This is when Mark really began to transform into what he is today, and found the tools to help others do the same.
  • Mark shared why he doesn’t like the term, “Self-Help,” and prefers to talk about people needing empowerment. It changes the idea from being that you’re broken from being that you need to amplify your best.
  • Looking throughout history at the greatest religious leaders and teachers of enlightenment, you find consistent back stories of pain and suffering leading to great insight and inspiration.
  • Mark realized through this that he spent his entire life playing the victim. Being a victim is not the same as playing a victim. He is a victim, but that is very different from acting like one. Playing one is about blaming all future outcomes and reactions to life on experiences of the past. It’s the difference between, “This happened to me,” and, “This happened for me.”
  • You can’t make a choice if you don’t realize there’s a decision to be made. He had to have a wake up to realize that it wasn’t working. He said the worst place he can get to is one of, “I know.” Thinking that way blocks him from seeing what could be or how he can grow.
  • To grow out of your current thought patterns, you need empathy – the ability to see what someone else is seeing. You need different thought patterns to see other ways forward.
  • Mark said something that stopped me in my tracks, “The truth doesn’t need defending.” If he is defending something, then perhaps there’s something going on within him that the defense is signaling since if what he was saying was true, it wouldn’t need any defense. Defense is a signal to him that there’s growth to be had.
  • Mark gave a challenge to the listeners to pick a moment to advocate with themselves regardless of what they think the other people in the interaction will think.

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037: Using Disaster to Unlock Wellness with Josh Perry

By on January 8, 2019


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Josh Perry is a former professional BMX athlete, motivational speaker, and certified holistic health consultant that’s fighting 4 brain tumors. His strong motivation for living his best and healthiest life stems from a brain tumor diagnosis & surgery in 2010 followed by 2 additional diagnoses. After overcoming the surgeries & treatments, and realizing he most likely has a genetic predisposition to accumulating tumors, he immersed himself in research on how to enhance the health, performance, and longevity of his brain. Since choosing to change his life and follow a ketogenic diet & lifestyle, the growth of the tumors have stopped and he feels better and more fulfilled than he has ever before. Today, Josh has left competing to start his health coaching business as a way of exploring his passion for helpings other improve their brain health and become the most successful versions of themselves. Josh also teamed up with the Athlete Recovery Fund to start raising awareness and funds for a non-profit BMX/Wellness event focused on raising direct funding for direct patient care through education, sport, and faith called the Brainy BMX Stunt Shows

Josh shares what really helped him take back control of his life. Vision & goals are what helped him overcome adversity and become successful, still living with 4 tumors today. His tools are Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, a ketogenic diet/lifestyle, and leaving the competition side of BMX to pursue his wellness-focused purpose purpose, Brainy BMX. Josh feels strongly that health is internal and we all have the same choice in our life and that’s our perspective.

Key Points from the Episode with Josh Perry:

  • Josh has taken a step back from his pro BMX career to focus on sharing his story across podcasts, public speaking and his health coaching work. And he’s doing that all with four brain tumors that he’s managing through a mix of the Keto diet, the right mindset and medical intervention when needed (mainly Gamma Knife technology)
  • He hit on the hidden transition in his retirement from the pro BMX circuit around a loss of identity. His world has been Josh Perry the BMX rider, so aside from not riding in competitions, he’s faced the question of who he is today. He still rides at an incredible level because he loves it, but he isn’t actively competing.
  • His dream was just to be a professional BMX rider competing, but didn’t realize what he’d be exposed to all over the world through the travel he’s done, for example performing for the troops in Afghanistan.
  • In March 2010, he was training a jump he was working on. He was worried about under-rotating and ended up over-compensating and over-rotating, which resulted in a crash that landed him in an urgent care center to get his head scanned.
  • As a background to this crash, he had been having intense headaches for a year with pain so severe it made him nauseous. Whenever he went to the doctor about the headaches, the doctors sort of blew it off since he was so young, and just gave him pills for the headache pain.
  • But when he got the scan after his crash, the news the doctor shared was not something he expected at all. He was told, “There’s something in your brain that isn’t supposed to be there.” And after that, things became surreal and he was almost detached from his surroundings. He called his mother to tell her the news and couldn’t even speak.
  • He felt complete broken and out-of-body.
  • The urgent care doctor told him he not only would never ride again, but probably would never walk again, either. That was what really set the shock in.
  • He sound learned that he had a large tumor on top of his brain that had wrapped itself around his optic nerve, which was causing his headaches and vision issues. It was so severe that, in a month or two, he wouldn’t have woken up again.
  • After his surgery, which took over six hours, he was riding again after five weeks, and was competing again seven to eight weeks after that.
  • His biggest struggle coming back into competition was just around confidence and whether he was ready and able to do it. He worked on that actively and got himself back to where he was before the surgery. It was very much an action-oriented approach.
  • He found inspiration from his mother’s battle overcoming colon cancer and also reading Lance Armstrong’s book and recognizing how he won most of his victories after he had cancer. That helped him realize he wasn’t done yet.
  • He learned so much through this experience about himself and what he can do that he believes he wouldn’t have learned without going through this experience with the first tumor. He doesn’t think everyone needs to face something so dramatic to learn these lessons, but he feels he did.
  • I questioned whether the fast movement to action helped him be positive and overcome it, which isn’t something he’s thought about before, but he does believe this is a crucial part of the puzzle. Had he sat longer before the surgery, he would have had more time to ruminate, worry and let his mindset slip.
  • He talked about how worrying can lead to bad choices, like when he crashed. He was worried about under-rotating when he flipped, and he ended up over-rotating and crashing. Worry about going too far left can mean you shift too hard right, and fail. Mindset and fear can lead to the outcomes we’re fearing in the first place.
  • Two years after coming back from his first tumor and surgery, a routine MRI found two new tumors that were not operable. He was told he could try radiation, but that didn’t sit well with him, so he researched other options, and found the Gamma Knife, which uses targeted radio waves done on an out-patient basis, which is what he has been using to fight his tumors since finding it.
  • As he was getting fully back into BMX competition, he blew out his knee at a competition, and rode with it that way for two years with it in a brace because he didn’t want to stop riding to get it taken care of.
  • His girlfriend, who was a trainer who he met through working through his recovery, pushed him to address his knee problem by getting surgery, and eventually he agreed to do it, timing things around BMX events. Recovery was expected to be six to eight months long, but his recovery went much faster, which he credits his physical fitness and diet with.
  • He came back into competition and got up to 10th in the world and then, during another regularly MRI scan, they found two more tumors, and realized he has a genetic condition that predisposes him to develop tumors in his brain and spinal cord.
  • Since then, he has used a Ketogenic diet to stop the growth of the tumors and promote brain health, and so far, the tumors have not progressed. As this episode comes out, he will have had his second annual scan to see if the tumors have stayed the same size or even shrunk, so we’ll all be thinking of Josh as we listen to this.
  • He shared some of the science behind why the Keto diet is so helpful, which is about providing alternative fuel sources to brain cells that are damaged, for example by concussion (which Josh obviously has dealt with given his profession).
  • Ultimately, Josh’s goal is to inspire change in perspective to help people see their lives in a more positive outlook but ultimately to prioritize the health of their brain. He shares his story to help inspire that in others, and has started to share more mindset pieces than anything.
  • He’s using his health coaching to help make this impact, as well as public speaking to try to touch large groups.
  • He’s not looking to just inspire people, but inspire them to take action and change.
  • He’s also working with the Athlete Recovery Fund to create the Brain BMX Stunt Shows, which are wellness BMS events to educate and raise funds for brain tumor and injury patients to provide direct funding for them. Josh and his family benefited from the Fund when he got his diagnosis, so this is a way to give back.
  • Books we mentioned: Buddha’s Brain and The Ketogenic Bible

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036: How to Make Time with John Zeratsky

By on January 2, 2019


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John Zeratsky was a designer in the tech industry who became obsessed with the idea of redesigning time. He is the bestselling author of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days and Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day.

John’s writing has been published by The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Fast Company, and many other publications. John has appeared on stage more than 100 times, including at Harvard University, IDEO, and the Code Conference.

For nearly 15 years, John was a designer for technology companies. At GV, he helped develop the design sprint process and worked with close to 200 startups, including Uber, Slack, Flatiron Health, Pocket, Foundation Medicine, One Medical Group, and Nest. He was also GV’s in-house copywriter, editor, and content strategist; he created and edited the GV Library, which has attracted million of views since 2012. Previously, John was a designer at YouTube and Google, and an early employee at FeedBurner, which Google acquired in 2007.

Originally from Wisconsin, John and his wife Michelle have lived in Chicago and San Francisco. Today they split time between their sailboat “Pineapple” (currently in Panama) and their home in Milwaukee.

Key Points from the Episode with John Zeratsky

  • John has been in the startup space for years, having been part of the team at FeedBurner when it was sold to Google.
  • At Google, he started to work at Google Ventures, which inserted him into companies they invested in to help those companies scale toward success.
  • Through those experiences, he learned a lot about productivity, and decided to dive head-first into it to find ways to become even more productive. He was focused on efficiency so he was making the most of his time while working. He saw this as a good thing, at least at the time.
  • Until he realized you can’t just keep pushing productivity as, eventually, you burn out. That inspired him to look for something more sustainable. This is what lead to the journey to his current book, Make Time.
  • The trick to making time, if there is one, is to spend less time on the default behaviors we fall into so we can focus more of our time on what matters.
  • Mindfulness is a big piece of this approach, but it’s not the only aspect as finding yourself doing something mindlessly might suggest you need to try harder and use will-power to stop doing that. John does not see will-power as a long-term strategy, and I agree with him.
  • Instead, he says we should make it harder to get distracted. We need to create the space to become more mindful with the time we have.
  • It starts with the idea of self-responsibility, since no one cares about you more than you do.
  • Rather than focusing on grit and execution, we should focus on structure that helps us succeed. Instead, we would see ourselves as failures or incapable if we don’t succeed.
  • Make the path to success the path of least resistance. As he says, if you are a compulsive gambler, you don’t live next to a casino. Make choices in the structure of your life to make it easier to get to where you want to be.
  • He shared the basis of his first book, Sprint, which is about bringing software engineering design sprints into making teams more productive. It was an experiment with redesigning time for teams. Some of what they learned became the framework for his new book, Make Time.
  • Speaking of which, what is it? Make Time is a book, but also a strategy for how to make time for the things you want to be doing. It is filled with 87 concrete tactics, but it boils down to four daily steps, which are in a daily loop. They are:
    1. Highlights – what is the highlight of your day that you want to see accomplished, and then build your day around that.
    2. Laser – make the structural adjustments to your technology and physical environment to cut back on the activities you get into mindlessly that you don’t really want to do, like, “Today, I want to spend three hours lost in my Facebook feed.” It’s about adding friction and barriers back oil so you make better choices.
    3. Energize – you can’t make good use of your time if you’re tired, don’t have energy and are worn out. This is about concrete ways to build energy for your body and mind through different things you can do to take care of yourself. These are simple, concrete things you can do in a given day. For example, he shares small ways to bring movement into your day like walking to work at least part of the way (which brought up a convo about my idea of #CUYOP – Commuting Under Your Own Power), or not ordering online but going out to a store to get what you need.
    4. Reflect – look back on your day and note what went well and what didn’t, and think about what you can do differently the next day.
  • We talked about a lot of pressure from “Musts” in our life, especially around exercise. You don’t have to workout for an hour to get benefit, and some is better than none, so do something. He cited some research that shows that the majority of the benefit of an hour of cardio comes in the first 20 minutes. And he shared other insights that, if you aren’t doing anything now, try to do just 15 minutes a day, which is a great start, builds consistency, and will start to have impact. You don’t have to stare at a huge effort and cower in front of it and end up doing nothing (that is, Do a Day!).
  • John is all about breaking down the big things into small things we can do today. It may not get us where we’re going today, but will get us going towards it, and if you don’t start, you’ll never get there. Looking at something that’s 60-90 minuets seems to be a good place to start. It’s long enough to be a big deal that you have to make time for purposefully, but not so big that it’s impossible (like an all-day effort).
  • We also talked about the idea of Someday vs. Today. It’s never “Someday,” but is instead always, “Today.” This is central to Do a Day, so of course I loved it. If you focus on “Someday,” you will never start since it’s always in the future.
  • This is really useful for New Years Resolutions, especially. Break down those “Someday” goals into “Today” actions.
  • We always know that there is something that we want to be better at, but we don’t always know quite what that would look like if we haven’t started. John talked about the idea of treading water. You know you want to get to land, but you can’t really see around you to know where to go or what getting there would entail. Sometimes, you need to start, get your head above water, and as you get going, you will see more clearly where that goal point is.
  • John shared a personal story of doing exactly that. While he and his wife were living in San Francisco and were busy, they started to find that they were having trouble finding the space for what they wanted to do. They started (the key!) to create space for doing just that, and used it to get into sailing, which they enjoyed. The more they did it, the more they were able to make time to do it, and over the course of years, this turned into a complete change in their life. They moved out of San Francisco and onto their sailboat, and cruised their way down to Panama, where their boat is today  and they spend their summers (and they are in Milwaukee, WI the rest of the year). They didn’t start with the plan of doing any of this, but made time, and the goals started to come together toward their current life.

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